Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Sarfaraz A Rehman: The Pale Blue Dot - that is Us

Sarfaraz A Rehman: The Pale Blue Dot - that is Us: Having served its mission, the old machine was let to travel on its lonely route to where nothing had gone before. Out of the sola...

The Pale Blue Dot - that is Us

Having served its mission, the old machine was let to travel on its lonely route to where nothing had gone before. Out of the solar system and into interstellar space, for a tryst with a star some 40000 years from now. Yet unknown to everyone, the best was to be served up last.  

On the fervent request of Carl Sagan, the iconic astronomer, finally in 1990 the Voyager 1 cameras were turned around to  face its mother planet Earth. This last service, some 13 years from launch and after 6 billion kilometres of lonely travel. Mans most unique servant was about to provide perspective to its master. More than 27 years ago, the Voyager 1, took 60 frames which were merged into what today is known as the Pale Blue Dot. A picture of our planet and home from way out there, showing us our reality. The picture is so small that one is not able to download it sufficiently for a proper view.  It has become the most poignant photograph in history and there is no better explanation of its importance, then from Sagan himself, the originator of the idea.
“Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar", every "supreme leader", every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.  

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”
Once seen, one can never forget the Pale Blue Dot and the words of Sagan make the reality even more stark. Our feet on the ground, we should never be arrogant in this tiny circus of our existence. We have no reason to be. 

*picture is from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sarfaraz A Rehman: A Method of Life

Sarfaraz A Rehman: A Method of Life: Five day formula Mon-Friday :). Try it, it might stick. Fajar, read Quran with meaning walk  have a healthy breakfast be in ti...

A Method of Life

Five day formula Mon-Friday :). Try it, it might stick.

Fajar, read Quran with meaning
have a healthy breakfast
be in time for all commitments
never stress on the road
smile and appreciate others
when required, advise, never criticise, never talk down
let others be. Don't be holier than thou.
lunch, less carbs, Zohar.
play some brain challenging puzzles
have haldi, green tea with honey, ginger and kaali mirch
stay in touch with old friends
stay active and Asr
dinner (light) and then Isha
watch TV, social media, read, play some more puzzles
contemplate on day, on life and times.
try and sleep early enough, unless some social event.

if at first do not succeed, keep trying.  :)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sarfaraz A Rehman: The Passport

Sarfaraz A Rehman: The Passport: “One does not sell the land people walk on” Crazy Horse, Oglalala Sioux Chieftain, 1875  The nomads understood the earth was chan...

The Passport

“One does not sell the land people walk on” 
Crazy Horse, Oglalala Sioux Chieftain, 1875 
The nomads understood the earth was changing. Cold and  drought were making it difficult to survive on the vast steppes. To their East they had heard of a big water and on the West was the sea of dark water. But, there was enough land out their for the tribes. They would go both East and West. The great Aryan migration had begun. Slowly over  hundreds of years, they came to lands in India and Iran, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Germany. The Aryan migration was to change the world many millennia later. 
Even earlier than that, the sons of Hazrat Nuh, Shem; Haam; Japheth had migrated too, into empty lands and filled them with humans. Thus humans had spread through the world. 
The Quran speaks about migration. Indeed, the Islamic calendar started from the migration of the Prophet (saw). In the Islamic perspective, migration can be for religion, for education or to avoid repression. There is freedom to go from a land and no reason to be attached to it. 

“Was not the earth of God spacious enough for you to flee for refuge?” (4:97)

So many Prophets, Adam, Ibrahim, Ismael, Musa etc migrated. It is allowed and such sacrifice, if done for religion is greatly honoured. 
Ibn Battuta, left his native Moroccan land at 21. A wander lust and a thirst for knowledge led him for three decades through lands as far East as India. He came home to narrate his many adventures. Thus enriching history and bringing mankind ever closer together.
Humanity for much of history had the freedom of the lands. As Crazy Horse quoted, you cannot own land. Allah (swt) had given this for free, for humanity to use and succeeding generations of humans were just occupiers of the land, to eventually pass on the usage to the next generation.
Sometime after World War 1 came a change in the status of empires. The nation states were born and its first representative the League of Nations was created. Much was changed and one of the first things agreed was to stamp the identity of nation states; thus the Passport was born. Back in the Persian empire days, the Khusro would issue letters of authority to his representatives, when they traveled to other parts. Similarly, Henry Viii issued authorities for his people to travel. But by and large, the Passport was first put into effect around 1920.   
It seemed like a minor intervention, but the Passport and what it implied, has changed the world. The word “immigrant” has been stamped onto our psyche now. In the past large groups of people simply moved lands and no one stopped them. USA, the most iconic country of the last century, is also born out of this very immigration. When the Mayflower from Plymouth sailed across the seas bringing the Pilgrim Fathers, there were no passports or barriers to entry. The Passport is the basic tenet of nation hood and has become the tool of racism, wealth, barriers and has also led to conflicts. Whatever the intention of the League of Nations, it has so transpired, that the simple agreement to institute the Passport almost a 100 years ago, is suspiciously viewed by many as a sinister conspiracy to subjugate the people of humanity.

Just a further related footnote of history. A hundred years ago, much changed very suddenly. The Balfour Declaration was made, creating the vision of Israel; the Caliphate of Muslims was destroyed; USA took its role as the major power; the concept of modern nationhood was established; The Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia; the Jewish people commenced their migration to the Middle East (all done without any Passport!!!); The division of Europe was done leaving the seeds for World War 2. The division of Arabia was done, leaving seeds for the present conflict. The Passport was born; The present day system was institutionalised (banks, stock markets, currencies, insurance companies, transnational organisations, democracy). All within a space of three years history was transformed. So who was the guiding hand? Are we humans so obtuse, that we do not see a pattern here? But, that is a question of a separate story. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Living in the Now

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Living in the Now: As a child Our time scale was very short. That was the basic reason why we lived in the Now and were happy.  It was incredible how t...