Wednesday, 11 April 2012

It's 12th Of April - Drop Everything And Read

Posted by Muhammed Khan on 20:19 1 comments

Recently just experienced a benefit of signing up to different websites' emails newsletters. While I was checking my emails, I saw an email from Harper Collins (a book publishing company), about a promotion of a day they call D.E.A.R which actually stands for Drop Everything And Read.

The name elaborates itself and sounded interesting and more interesting was to know that the world actually celebrates a day dedicated to book reading. But to a very little extent, this excitement eroded when I came to know that it's more of an American national day rather than being international.

But who cares, as far as something is useful and healthy? It's good that more and more celebrate these kind of days. Therefore I'd share some information of this day with my readers who, like me, happen to have no or very little knowledge about this day. Of course to spread something good.

"National D.E.A.R. Day is a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis as a family priority." 
Initiated by Beverly Cleary, the famous children's book author, it all started when she celebrated the same day in her famous book, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona's Class where she included a passage about this DEAR day when Ramona Quimby (a character in the book) starts receiving
numerous letters from readers who mentioned the great reading program they were doing in class.

Beverly Cleary - DEAR - Drop Everything And Read
Beverly Cleary - Image From

Though started on fictitious grounds, the day has started to gain some popularity and many institutes have started to support it as well. Some of the institutes which officially support the day are:

  • The National Education Association (NEA)
  • Parent Teacher Association (PTA) 
  • The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) 
  • A division of the American Library Association (ALA) 
  • Reading Rockets The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) 
  • The Newspaper Association of America Foundation(NAA) 
  • First Book
  • HarperCollins Children’s Books.
The main reason Drop Everything And Read day is celebrated on April 12th is because its Beverly Clearly's birthday on this day.

Of course being a day allotted to some thing doesn't mean that it should be done only on that day. Therefore, don't just limit your reading habit to this day only.

Looking at the support of this day, it seems that some day it'd be celebrated in the entire world. Its only a matter of time.

 For more information about D.E.A.R visit Drop Everything And Read's official website.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Jub Zindagi Shuru Hogi By Abu Yahya - Review

Posted by Muhammed Khan on 12:18 1 comments

From the very beginning, ever since man has started pondering about his existence he has become more concerned about his mortality than his life. But even as a primitive man, there was an idea (though vague but still existed) in their minds that mortality or death (if simplify it even more) does not mean non existence but what it actually means is that you cease to exist in current form or transform in to something else as a result of embracing death.

So the question that, "What would become after death" was always there. All the religions that were preached, spread, dominated the society and even forgotten, all have at least one thing in common. All of them purports a life after death and that the fate of  the spiritual life hereafter would be decided by the deeds you perform in this physical world and heaven (جنت)  and hell (جھنم) will be the reward of the good and bad souls respectively where they would abode forever where they would cherish the blessings or face the wrath and torment from their creator, Allah.

"Jub Zindagi Shru Hogi" (جب زندگی شروع ھوگی) is a didactic but fictional novel (in Urdu of course) written by Abu Yahya (ابو یحیٰٰی). The sole purpose of the writer to write this book is to make it possible to the maximum extent that people change their lifestyles after reading the book and start living as Allah has prescribed them to live. Since the purpose pf the book is not to collect any applause or homages, the writer hasn't even disclosed his original identity. Therefore, Abu Yahya is a Pen Name. I came to know about this fact after reading Amir Khakwani's column, "Jub Zindagi Shuru Hogi".   

So talking about the book, it's of course fictional (just the characters). A short story about a journey of a person named, "Abdullah" (عبدللھ) who dies and experiences the events after death. The writer doesn't limit the span of the story to Abdullah. In fact he has picturised the events of Qimayah (The day of Judgement / Akhirah) that Abdullah experiences. 

He is led by an angel, "Saleh" (صالح) during the entire journey from the beginning of accountability, during accountability and then the rewards and punishment that people receive according to their deeds in the world here. 

Being a pious man, Abdullah is given a privilege as he wanders around and sees that what people, good or bad, are going through and these people include his own family and teacher as well.        

All the events are within the purview of the Islamic teachings as explained in Quran and Hadiths. The writer has referred to the incidents of lives of different prophets and that how they'll testify for and against those who followed or denied their teachings respectively. 

The book is definitely for people to revert back to the Islamic teachings. So that they spend their lives according to the Islamic teachings and are not dissuaded from their purpose, the reason why Allah has send them to this world and that the world is nothing but a test and all its glitz and glamour and  the attractions will come to an end one day.

From literary point view, one thing I would appreciate is the skillful way with which the writer has painted the picture of the events and the scenes of the Judgment day. But on the downside, I believe that much more could be done when portraying the paradise. It looked like that he just wanted to wrap up and quickly went on explaining the heaven's environment too quickly (I just started to get relaxed and enjoy heaven after having a hell of a trip in "HELL"). The counter argument could be that the writer never tried it to be a piece of art so he didn't waste his time on explaining further.

Another commendable aspect is the good use of words and phrases which really spice up your reading.

It'd not take your great time to read the entire book. Couple of days are more than enough to go through it.

I read the e-book version of it as I came to know about it when someone emailed me. If you people want to download the same book and I'd highly recommend you to read this one as it is no doubt a life changing and soul shakening book, just click on  "Jub Zindagi Shru Hogi"   


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Ram Deen By Mumtaz Mufti - Review

Posted by Muhammed Khan on 09:49 0 comments

Ram Deen By Mumtaz Mufti - Review
Well! Mumtaz Mufti's Ram Deen (Urdu) is going to be my first Urdu book about which I'm going to  review on this blog. I've read more Urdu books than English but ironically this is going to be my first review of any book written in the language in which I talk, listen, feel, think and dream.

Ram Deen is a famous (and of course my favorite) work of Mumtaz Mufti which is divided into 21 sections/chapters. Still I couldn't reach to a conclusion whether its a complete fiction or the author has stated some exaggerated facts which is quite normal for the writers in order to come up with more inspiring and interesting output.

"Ram Deen" can be truly regarded as a book which played a great role in changing my views about Pakistan. In fact I'd always thought that the creation of Pakistan is not for without any purpose and one day for sure it will achieve its destiny even though it still seems to be a long way through.

The 21 different chapters can be regarded as essays, short stories e.t.c both fictional and non fictional. Ram Deen, being the very first chapter of the book, seems like a gibe to all those people especially the Muslims and / or those secular minded people of the sub continent who believe that they would have been in a position, much better off, had there been no separation in 1947.

If you have even a faintest idea of the names of the people used in the South East Asian part, or to be more precise, in the sub continent, then you would easily figure out the weirdness in the name Ram Deen. It's a mixture of both Hindu and Muslim names and these two names are not referring to two persons but a single character. A Muslim, who with a passage of time has amalgamated his name with a Hindu name as a result of the cultural and religious influence. Metaphorically speaking, the name of the person also depicts the culture, life style and therefore, the religious views of the Muslims especially living in the Hindu dominated regions during pre-partition era. I'm sure that this is still valid even today.

So the title of the book is based on the book's very first chapter and the same chapter, not entirely though, but more or less is a reflection of the complete theme of the entire book.

Although there are few chapters on relatively different topics but the book mainly revolves around the concept of the spiritual necessity of the Muslims of the sub continent in striving for Pakistan and that why the creation of Pakistan was necessary for the Muslims, politically, religiously, socially and economically.

I would love to go further in detail about this but this would sway us away from the book. So coming back to it, it's been written in fairly simple language which of course typical to Mumtaz Mufti as he doesn't like to make the lives of the readers hard. Secondly, the writer has metaphorically characterized the people and as I said that even after reading the entire book, I'm not quite sure that whether the incidents explained are fictional or actual but yet you'd find them interesting to read.

The last five chapters are a travelogue about a journey that the writer had with his bunch of friends in the Northern and other areas of Pakistan. The most interesting thing about these travelogue are the names of the characters that Mumtaz Mufti has used to refer to the people (his friends actually) in the whole journey. Some of them are, "Dastaan Go" which means "Story Teller" in English, "Leader", "Engineer", "Poet"  e.t.c. So these are the interesting names of the characters in the last five chapters of "Ram Deen".

There's even a homage paid through this book to a folk singer, Tufail Niazi and besides this, there are two chapters that I believe to be worth reading. These are, "Pakistan" and "Jae Panah Se Jae Imtiaz Tak".  These two has got some really inspirational incidents which are surely going to electrify you.

You can easily read the entire book in just one go as the volume is not so great and secondly, Raam Deen is so interesting that you will hardly want to do anything else when reading it. The single book is a cocktail of different colors. Its philosophical, slightly humorous and didactic as well at the same time.

So if you are looking forward to have a good read this weekend, Ram Deen can be an awesome choice. It's  also available online but I wouldn't recommend it until you have a good, portable, hand size e-book reader as I've my own reservations with reading through the monitor screen.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol Review

Posted by Muhammed Khan on 03:48 0 comments

The Lost Symbol Review - Dan Brown

At last, I'm done reading Dan Brown's new Novel, The Lost Symbol. It's been quite a while since I last published a review however since I've read the book entirely, I feel safe to express my opinion on it.

When I picked this book, I was expecting the same material as I had read in other Dan Brown books as the title and the image (of US Capitol building and the symbolic Free Masonry Key) on the main page tells you a lot about what's the content's going to be within and believe me as far as something new is concerned relative to other Dan Brown's novels,  The lost symbol is not going to startle you. It's the same Robert Langdon, the same mystery solving journey, deciphering the codes, understanding the signs obscured in the masterpiece paintings of the legends, a pretty, decent and genius woman for whom Dan Brown renders his duties as an intelligent bodyguard,  an ingenious villain who keeps dominating till the end until everything goes wrong for him at the very last moment   e.t.c.

Equipped with untold mysteries revolving around Washington D.C, Dan Brown has very cleverly plotted and revealed these intriguing mysteries in the entire book. Whenever I read Dan Brown's books, one thing I admire most is the way he places and then maneuvers his characters so expertly that a reader does not feel that any character has been dragged to a certain position or have been forcefully pushed into a particular situation. It all appears so natural.

The Lost Symbol  is the story of a person, Malakh who tries to reach to the famous hidden Free Masonic's Lost Symbol allegedly considered to be buried somewhere in the Washington D.C by the founding forefathers of the modern United States Of America (Who were Free Masons Themselves) and supposedly withholds enormous powers that any human being has hardly borne. The job of  Robert Langdon eventually turns out to stop Malakh when he finds himself ensnared in a situation carefully plotted by Malakh himself . The word "Symbol" here is purely a symbolic and allegoric according to Dan Brown and he claims that the presence of a buried symbol somewhere in US Capital is no fiction at all.

In the whole novel, Malakh manages to get his hands on a leverage by abducting an influential person in the society named as Peter Solomon, a close and dearest friend of Robert Langdon who holds the highest position in the Free Masonic brotherhood as well.

Another main character in this novel is of Katherine Solomon, sister of Peter Solomon who is a genius scientist and recently has made some ground breaking discoveries in the freshly discovered field of Noetic Sciences.

For many folks, the term Noetic Sciences sounds to be new and it actually is. I'm not going to start a lecture about this field in order to explain it at least in this it is going to take something a lot larger than a snippet from a post to explain it but believe me, Noetic Sciences has gained some popularity after the release of The Lost Symbol. In short, Noetic Science is attempting to create a bridge between religion and science which until recently were considered as non compatible simultaneously.. 

Dan Brown, in this book has tried to advocate and support the existence of the Secret Society of Free Masons Brotherhood and considers that this notorious dark group with weird practices has been immensely misunderstood by the masses. Dan Brown, through Robert Langdon has tried to reply back to all the misconceptions (according to him) revolving around Free Masons Society.

Apart from appreciation, this book has received some criticisms as well which I consider is essential. Many believe that you have to digest the unnecessary situations which have been forcefully created so as to drag the scenario to any conclusion which I consider is not correct. However, I although believe that unnaturally, all the characters in this novel (and other novels of Dan Brown as well) are bunch of "BAD ASSES" in their respective fields. They're all geniuses, know everything and hardly ever say "I Don't Know" which again I consider is quite unnatural.

Published and released on September 15, 2009 the book managed to sell over 6.5 million copies alone in the American continents in its first printing. Definitely sounds like a blockbuster hit. The version that I read comprises of 505 easy to go through normal sized pages.

I'd recommend you to read this novel. The best thing about Dan Brown's books are that they'd compel you to do some research from your part and for sure you'd keep guessing while reading the novel that which part is fact and which one is fiction and I also from time to time keep googling about the phrases, events, characters and the stories about the paintings and other artifacts discussed in this book and believed to contain some hidden codes, secrets and messages.

In short, "Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol is going to intrigue you".

Saturday, 5 November 2011

What I've Been Reading This Week

Posted by Muhammed Khan on 04:36 0 comments

To update you guys on my current "Reading Projects", I've been waiting for a long time to get my hands on to the Dan Brown's, The Lost Symbol and once I had it, I started reading it. So it's been more than a week since I started reading it. Currently I'm not even half way through as I'm reading it at a speed of couple of chapters a day. So its definitely going to take some time when the review is ready and published over here.

However, just as a synopsis, The Lost Symbol is no way different from Dan Brown's previous novels but even then I'm finding it interesting.

Secondly, I have temporarily given up on Stephen Hawkings, The Brief History Of Time (E book). It's definitely a great piece of work but I felt that I started losing it. Of course, its purely science and it might appear that the book's for nerds or only for science geeks but this is not the case as the topics in the books have been elaborated very nicely by the writer. The reason why I stopped reading it is because I feel that complete dedication is required reading it and this was what I wasn't able to render. So I'm going to return back to it once I'm done with other books.

That's it for now Keep visiting for the reviews and never hesitate in correcting my assertions whatsoever.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Alchemist - By Paulo Cohelo - Review

Posted by Muhammed Khan on 19:01 0 comments

The story of a boy shepherd, who follows his destiny and in pursuit of which he is deprived of his wealth, possession and even has to give up his home land.

The Alchemist is a short allegory fable about a shepherd who starts to have visions and he deems those visions as his destiny. In order to realize his dreams, he sets off for a journey to Egypt as a gypsy and an old man who claims himself to be the King but his appearance expressed a very different story,  reveal that the treasure is buried somewhere near the Egyptian Pyramids. So he sets off and sells his most precious belongings, the 60 sheep in order to have some money for his journey.

The old man also teaches him about the Omens and how to believe in them and how to get inspired from them so that one may seek guidance through. The lessons helps him greatly during the entire voyage as the Omens guide him nearer to his destiny where he meets an Alchemist, the Old Man of The Desert. The person who has great spiritual knowledge and the art turning metals into gold.

Meeting with the Alchemist proves to be fortunate as the boy finally reaches to his destiny but with a spiritually enlightened heart and mind, the knowledge of the unknown and the vision of the unseen.

The entire novel comprises of just 175 pages so a person with a decent reading speed can go through it in one go. Paulo Cohelo has, like other of his novels tried to teach a lesson that one should never stop seeking his destiny no matter with how much ease and convenience you live and the people who don't strive for their destinies, their lives are miserable,  wasted and empty.

Of course, its an allegory tale therefore the message has been conveyed through different metaphors, and Paulo Cohelo is no doubt good in it as he has done the same in his other novels as well. Like The Pilgrimage e.t.c    

As far as my recommendation is concerned, its definitely a good novel but slightly overrated when it comes to selling record breaking, millions of copies worldwide. This should not be considered, in anyway as a bashing as I consider it to be a good and interesting novel but still, manage to sell more than thirty million copies of it seems to be too lucky for the writer.

It may sound like that I don't have proclivities towards medieval mysticism so the stuff appeared to me too heavy to understand or appreciate but this is not the case as I truly admire mysticism and mystique and really have a  soft corner for both. The only reason that I believe so is that no great deal of details are provided as everything seems to pass by in a rush. Detailing in a poetic way  is imminent when it comes to spirituality and someone intents to convey his message through metaphors e.t.c.

Nevertheless, when you ask me that whether one should read it or not, my reply would be YES. Its a good novel with great message and will certainly arouse a positive feeling and energy within you.      

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Colin Wilson's: The Criminal History Of Mankind - Review

Posted by Muhammed Khan on 12:30 0 comments

Colin Wilson - The Criminal History Of Mankind - Review
Ever since the man has descended on this earth, the crime has been a major source of channelizing his energy. In fact, the very descendence of man, from heaven to earth was a result of a crime, the Original Sin, that's what the Christians named the famous incident of Adam and Eve of doing something forbidden.

The Criminal History Of Mankind by Colin wilson takes into account the psychological reasons because of crime and violence and why man is inclined towards a criminal activity. The writer contemplates on the motivations which result in crime and why only the human beings have proved themselves to be a creature who kill their own species without any motive. Of course killing or murdering is not the only crime but Colin wilson has, in majority portion of his book, kept the focus on murder, mass murder, rape and rape murder.

The book as the name suggests, is a philosophical overview of the history of crime. Amazingly, despite being philosophical, one does not feel boredom while reading the majority parts of it.

I read the pdf version of it on the computer and man!!! what horrible experience that was to read such an exotic book on PC as you find it very difficult to read for too long but nevertheless, I completed the whole book and it took me two to three months in completing it. That sure sounds a great deal of time but this doesn't mean that the book is a large one. In fact, its a book with 405 pages. The reason for such delay was of course the "Reading On Computer" issue and secondly, I started to read this book in my office. Actually not in break timings but in normal office hours and I would read only one to two pages a day. Let us just hope that my boss isn't fond of reading blogs. So the reason for such slow reading seems to be justified I guess!

Colin wilson, in his book, reviews all the prominent personalities in the history who dominated, ruled or influenced the world or during their time (of course, the world all in this sentence is literally confined to my own knowledge of history). In addition to this the author goes way back to the pre historic times and discusses the times from The Pecking Man to Neanthedral Man, from Greeks to Romans and from the Middle ages to the modern man to the modern civilized man. So one great benefit you would gain after reading this book would be that your history knowledge is going to be revised.

Although, many say that the discussion of the pre historic element of The Criminal History Of Mankind is rather week but I feel that it's not a history book so such short comings can be easily ignored. Instead, it can be used as a book through which you can easily and quickly  go through the human history.

Colin wilson keeps the interest intact throughout the whole book by referring to the formidable crimes and discusses the psychological reasons behind such acts.

My favorite part of The Criminal History Of Mankind is the chapter in which the author discusses the role of hypnosis in deciding the man's actions. Like all other Layman, I used to get intrigued and fascinated whenever I used to read or listen about incident related to hypnosis and always thought it as something magical. But the book succeeded in changing my views about it and I realized that the whole phenomenon is psychological rather than magical (what normally majority of the hypnotists purports it to be).

I think that a small clarification is really necessary related to some religious (Islamic) issue. On page 318 Colin wilson writes that "pigs were sacred to Mahommedans" (surely he means Muslims), what actually he is referring to is the incident in which the Muslim and Hindu Sepoys (troops) in British invaded India were forced to bite the end of the cartridges (manufactured from cow and pig fat) in order to load their guns. Both communities expressed their resentment leading eventually to a bloodshed as cows are sacred to Hindus and pigs are "Haram" (forbidden) in Islam because of their filthy nature. So the word, "Sacred" is totally the opposite of the word Haram and pigs are not sacred to Muslims in anyway.

The downside of this book is that after reading A Criminal History Of Mankind, the book filled with immense violence and human brutality, some part in me has started to think that in the West, the crime is in abundance and the serial killers are present at every block waiting for their next victim to fall for their bait. I know this is absolutely not the case, but that's the impression the book involuntarily creates.

However, if you still haven't read this book and luckily somehow you get your hands on it, I would reckon not to miss such book. It's a good read and you are definitely going to enjoy it throughout your whole reading sessions.