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Friday, 4 July 2014


This is an early Meccan Sura, and it is connected with an incident which reflects the highest honor on the Prophet’s sincerity in the Revelations that were vouchsafed to him, even if they seemed to reprove him for some natural and human zeal that led him to a false step in his mission according to his own high standards.


He was deeply and earnestly engaged in trying to explain the Holy Qur’an to Pagan Quraish leaders, when he was interrupted by a blind man “Abdullah ibn Ummi Maktum, a man who was also poor, so no has taken any notice of him. He wanted to learn the Qur’an. The holy Prophet naturally disliked the rude interruption and showed impatience. Perhaps the poor man’s feelings were hurt. But he whose gentle heart ever sympathized with the poor and the afflicted, immediately got New Light from the above, and without the least hesitation published/announced this revelation, which forms part of the sacred scripture of Islam, as described in verses 13-16. And the Prophet afterwards has always held the man in high honor.

The incident could have been taken as a passing incident, but after explaining the eternal principles of the revelation, the Sura is a recapitulation of the Mercies of God to man, and the consequences of a good or wicked life here, as will be seen in the spiritual world in the Hereafter.

  Men who are not blessed with the good things of this life may yet be earnest seekers for the Truth and Purity, and they deserve as much attention as those who seem to wield some influence, yet in their pride feel they are self-sufficient. God’s Message is universal; all have a right to hear it. Held high in honor, kept pure and holy, it should be writ by none but good and honorable men.

God’s Grace is showered on man not less for his inner growth than in his outward life.

There must be a final reckoning.

 The Day of Judgment when each soul will stand to face the consequences of its own Book.  The Faces of the Blessed will be beam/brightening with joy and light, while the Doer of Iniquity will hide in dust, shame and Darkness.

 In the introduction to this Sura we see the incident to which it refers. The lesson is that neither spiritual worth nor the prospect of effective spiritual guidance is to be measured by a man’s position in life. The poor, the blind or the maimed may be more susceptible to the teachings of God’s Word than the men who are apparently gifted but they suffer from arrogance and self-sufficiency.

It might be the poor blind man – on the account of his will to learn- may be more likely to raise to his own spiritual development, or to profit by any lessons taught to him even in reproof than a self sufficient leader. In fact it was so. The Blind Man became a true and sincere Muslim and lived to become a Governor of Al-Medina.

 On the other hand the Pagan Quraishi leader whom the holy Prophet was anxious to convert him into Islam in order that the work of preaching God’s Message might be facilitated. But the Message seems to work first amongst the simple, the lowly, the poor and the despised folks, and the mighty ones of the earth only comes in when the stream rushes in with irresistible force.

God’s Message is for all, but if the great ones arrogantly keep back or refrain from it, it is no fault of the preacher, so long as he had proclaimed the Message. He should attend to all and especially to the humble and lowly.

The fear in the blind man’s heart have been two folds (1) He was humble and God’s fearing, not arrogant and self sufficient: (2) being poor and blind he feared to intrude; yet his earnest desire to learn the Qur’an encouraged him and made him brave to come forward, perhaps unseasonable, but was yet worthy of encouragement, because of the purity of his heart.

God’s Message is a universal Message, no one is excluded –rich or poor, old or young, great or low, educate, learned, illiterate or ignorant. If anyone had the spiritual craving which needs satisfaction, he is to be given precedence, if there was to be precedence at all.

At the time this Sura was revealed, there perhaps was only about 42 or 45 Suras in the hand of the Muslims. But it was a sufficient body of Revelation of high spiritual value, to which the description given here could be applied. It was held in the highest honor; its place in the hearts of Muslims was more exalted than that of anything else; as God’s Word it was pure and sacred; and those who transcribed it were men who are honorable, just and pious. The legend that the early Suras were not carefully written down and preserved in books is a pure invention. The recensions made later in the time of the first and the third Khalifas were merely to preserve the purity and safeguard the arrangement of the text, at a time when the expansion of Islam among non-Arabic speaking people made such precautious necessary.

(Surat Al-Insan 76 Aya 2) The origin of man as an animal lowly indeed, but what further faculties and capacities has God not granted to man? Beside his animal/materialistic body is which he also shares all the blessings God has bestowed on the rest of His Creation, man has been granted divine gifts which entitle him to be called the vicegerent of God on earth. He has a will, he has spiritual perceptions; he capable of divine love; he can control nature within certain limits, and exploit nature’s forces to his own usage. He has been given the power of judgment, so that he can avoid excess and defect and follow the middle path. That path, as well as all other benefits, is necessary for his life in its manifold aspects, has been made easy for him.

(Surat Taha 20 Aya 55) Death is an inevitable event, after the brief life on this earth, but it is also in a sense is a blessing, a release from the imperfections of this world, a close of the probationary period, after which will come the dawn of the full Reality. “The Grave” may be understood to be the period between physical death and immortal life, whatever may be the mode of disposal of the dead body. This intermediate period is the (BARZAKH) an Isthmus or a partition (See Surat Al-Mo’aminun (23) Aya 101).

Though all these blessings and stages have been provided by God’s Grace for the good of man, yet unregenerate man fails in carrying out the purpose of his creation and life.

After a reference t man’s inner history, there is now a reference to just one item in his daily outer life; his food: it is observed that how the forces of heaven and earth unite by God’s Command to serve man and his dependants “for use and convenience to you and your cattle” (Verse 32). If that is the case with just one item – food- how much more comprehensive is God’s beneficence when the whole of man’s needs are considered.                

The water comes from the clouds in plentiful abundance; the earth ploughed, and the soil is broken up in fragments, and it yields and abundant harvest of cereal, corn, fruits (Grapes) and vegetables, nutritious plants, as well as fruit that can keep for long periods and serve many requirements; like olive and dates.

Therefore, from within the earth and the soil, we; not only get field crops as mentioned before, but we have the more highly cultivated garden crops, both in the way of lofty trees and in the way of carefully tended fruits ; and then we have grass and all kinds of fodder. (The same verse occurs in Surat Al-Naziat 79 Aya33) which gives comprehensive meanings in that context.

Preliminary to the establishment of the Final Judgment;

Even those who were nearest and dearest in this life will not be able or willing to help each other on that awful day. On the contrary, if they have to receive a sentence for their sins, they will be anxious to avoid, even sharing each other’s sorrows, or witnessing each other’s humiliation; for each will have enough of his own troubles to occupy him. On the other hand the Righteous will be united with their righteous families; and their faces will be “beaming, laughing, rejoicing” verses 38/39.

No friend will ask after a friend that Day. On the contrary the sinner will desire to save himself at the expense even of his own family and benefactors.

The dust on the faces of the sinners will be in contrast to the beaming light on the faces of the righteous; and the blackness in contrast to the “laughing and rejoicing” faces of the righteous. But the dust also suggests that; being Rejecters of God, their faces and eyes and faculties were choked in dust, and the blackness suggests that being Doers of Iniquity they have no part or lot in Purity or Light.                Another contrast may possibly be deduced; the humble and lowly may be  “in the dust” in this life, and the arrogant sinners in sunshine: but the roles will be reversed at the judgment.

By : Wahba Diyab

Source : Sudan Vision Daily , 4th July 2014

Coimbatore Corp scores poorly in maintaining toilets for differently abled


A toilet meant for differently abled persons that is within the Coimbatore Corporation main office premises in Town Hall remains inaccessible, as waste, condemned vehicles block the pathway. The door is also locked.


Civic body will pull up contractor, says official

Coimbatore Corporation’s toilet for the differently abled at the main office, says the inscription on the wall. The toilet complex housing one each for men and women is just a few steps away from the office of the Corporation Commissioner in Town Hall.

The toilet is one of the 12 the Corporation built across the city in 2012 to help the orthopedically challenged attend to nature’s call. Two years down the line, the toilet has turned differently abled unfriendly – the Corporation has dumped its office waste, wooden reapers and other waste blocking the entrance.

Overcoming those obstacles to reach toilet is a challenging task to anybody, leave alone differently abled.
Even if one were to clear the hurdles, a Corporation vehicle in disuse blocks the way.

And then finally, there are the chain and lock that greet visitors.

The toilet is one of the many that is out of bounds for the differently abled. The toilet at the Singanallur Bus Stand is far worse. A push cart in disuse that is up on its sides blocks the way to the men’s differently abled toilet.

It is perhaps a sign of warning.

Inside, it is worse. Human waste is all over the floor with flies swarming the ground. The stench is so unbearable so as push out users. The women’s toilet is marginally better but again the entrance is blocked with a barricade. Both the toilets do not have taps in working condition.
The differently toilet in the Ukkadam is no better.

It is out of bounds for the differently abled who use wheel chairs because the slope of the ramp to enable the users to wheel in is very unfriendly.

The entrance to the men’s and women’s toilets is also too narrow for users to move in with wheel chairs.
The toilet design went against the Coimbatore Corporation’s objectives – while constructing the toilets in 2012 the Corporation said that it would build the toilets in such a way that persons with physical disability were able to move in with their wheel chairs.

The Corporation also said that it would fix handrails to walls to enable differently abled move with ease within the toilets.

It had provided the rails but they are rusted at many toilets.

The poor maintenance has upset the differently abled community in Coimbatore, which says that the very purpose of constructing the toilets stands negated. For people like Surya Nagappan, a differently abled activist, it means frantically looking for places with cover to attend to nature’s call.

For differently abled women it is worse, says N. Padmavathy. They prepare themselves by drinking water to the minimum to avoid using toilets.

The differently abled say that the Corporation will do well to handover the maintenance of the toilets to the members of the community, who will do a better job as they have stakes.

Or, the Corporation could rope in corporate companies, which could do it as part of their corporate social responsibility work.

Giving the maintenance to the contractor, who also maintains other toilets, only turns things worse, they say.

Corporation Deputy Commissioner S. Sivarasu says that the civic body will pull up the contractor and make the toilets differently abled friendly at the earliest. 

Source : MGR TV , 3rd July 2014

80% of people with disabilities do not have access to Education in Kyrgyzstan – Union of People with Disabilities

people with disabilities In Kyrgyzstan, 80% people with disabilities do not have access to education, 60% do not have primary education, Gulmira Kazakunova, Chairperson of the Union of People with Disabilities, said at the meeting with Social Development Minister Kudaibergen Bazarbayev on July 3.

“There are big problems with mothers who have to stay at home with their children with special needs. They do not receive any support. There are difficulties with healthcare products. Many of them need constant care,” Gulmira Kazakunova stated.

She also noted problems in assessments by medical and social commissions.

“We have started reforms in this sphere already. Kyrgyzstan still uses outdated regulations. In Soviet Union time a person with disability was secured decent socio-economic conditions. The time changed now. We introduce the notion to what extent a person is able to work. This will be measured in scores. Apart from health status, these scores will indicate person's needs in social services,” Minister Bazarbayev stated.

Joint steps on creation of favorable environment for people with disabilities, ensuring equal opportunities, promotion of success stories of people with disabilities, organization of joint actions were discussed at the meeting.

Source : AKI Press , 4th July 2014

Jindal signs bill expanding disability rights for individuals, veterans - SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)

Gov. Bobby Jindal was in Shreveport Monday to sign a bill into law supporting veterans and individuals with disabilities and an ArkLaTex woman said that is a great victory for people like her.

The bill, SB 432, prohibits any person with a disability from being denied admission to any public facility because of disability. This includes veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury. The bill also prohibits individuals with disabilities from being denied the use of a cane, service dogs, a wheelchair, crutches or other devices of assistance.

“This bill builds on our efforts to support individuals with disabilities, including our veterans who have fought fearlessly to protect our freedom," Jindal said in a news release.

The bill was written by Sen. Sherri Buffington, R-La., and supported by the Wounded Warrior Project, a program that raises awareness and enlists help for injured service members.

"This is the biggest victory we can have right now, we're one step closer to never being told no," said Bossier Parish Resident Helen Pieper, who suffers from severe asthma. 

Her service dog, Bandit, plays a big role in keeping her safe.

"She tells me 20 minutes before I have an asthma attack. My dog goes everywhere with me wherever I can bring her, if I didn't have her, I wouldn't be here," she said. 

Pieper is also a certified dog trainer at Puppy Paws Dog Training. She trains other service dogs, including dogs for veterans with mental disabilities. 

"If he [my student] didn't have the dog to keep calm, he wouldn't be able to go out in public," Pieper said.

With this victory behind them, Pieper said maybe more people will recognize what service dogs mean to them.

"Because a dog is working when they are with us, they are not a pet at that point in time, they are our life support and we need them," she said.

SB 432 updates Title 46 to protect individuals with mental disabilities, in addition to current protections in existing law for physical impairment. It also extends protection to all forms of disability, including autism and psychiatric disability.
Source :  KSLA News , 30th June 2014

48 Identified as Mentally ill at Camp Held as Part of Pudhu Vazhu Project - Vellore

 As many as 48 people from the villages of Modikuppam, Sengundram, Mukkundram, Chinnapalli, Thattaparai and Seevur in Gudiyattam block were determined to be suffering from mental illness and mental retardation, at a special screening camp that was held on Thursday at the Primary health centre at Modikuppam. The camp was conducted under the aegis of the Tamil Nadu Pudhu Vazhvu Mental health Project.

District project manager of the Pudhu Vazhvu Thittam S Narayanan said, the mental health project is being implemented as a pilot project in five blocks across the district as part of the state initiative. 44 villages that come under the six PHC’s in the district would be screened to identify the mentally ill and retarded people. A series of six camps will be held between July 3 to July 19 within the five blocks of Gudiyattam, Alangayam, Madanur, Timiri and Pernmabut. Meanwhile, the identified individuals would receive free medication from the nearby PHC’s and their family members would be covered under a rehabilitation programme to improve their living conditions, he added.

At the Modikuppam camp, psychiatrist Dr S Lakshmanan, attached to the Vellore Government medical college hospital screened the patients along with doctors from the Gudiyattam government hospital and doctors from PHCs. Another team of psychiatric counsellors from SRM medical college also participated in the camp and extended counselling for the patients and their family members. Details about the project and how it would benefit the families were explained to the participants.

Treatment has begun for the 48 persons. They would also receive national identity cards from the District Differently abled Welfare officer to avail the various welfare assistance programmes that are provided by the state government, he added.

Source : The New Indian Express , 5th July 2014

3D printing helps blind children enjoy classic bedtime stories

A new initiative is helping blind and visually impaired children gain access to classic bedtime stories. Launched by researchers at the University of Colorado, the Tactile Picture Books Project converts standard children’s books into textured pages using 3D printing technology, reports the Daily Mail.

So far, the team has successfully converted ‘Goodnight Moon’, ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and ‘Cat in the Hat’, with the aim of creating many more.

The books each feature raised illustrations for children to feel while the story is read aloud. In the 3D version of ‘Goodnight Moon’, for instance, they can physically touch the cow jumping over the moon. According to Alice Applebaum, whose Denver-based organization, the Anchor Center, helped create the project, 3D printing is a logical step in educating vision-impaired children. “We often add texture to books; we have a room here where we add braille and things that children can feel to stories,” she told Mashable.

“It’s just like when we learn how to read with our eyes, but they’re learning with all their other senses.” 

Source : Daily Times , 5th July 2014

Make 'Talking Books' Available for Sightless

India has become the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for the visually impaired. The treaty requires signatories to adopt national law provisions that facilitate the availability of published works in formats like Braille that are accessible to the blind and allow their exchange across borders by organisations working for the visually impaired. The Indian Copyright Act, 1957, did not have any provision for the conversion and distribution of books in accessible formats for such persons. Due to this, organisations serving the blind had to get permission from copyright holders to undertake conversions.

However, many publishers did not give anyone the rights to have their books converted. With the ratification of this treaty, entities such as educational institutions, libraries and other such organisations working for the benefit of people with visually impairment can now create audio and Braille version of books without seeking permission of the right holder. It is a major step forward in favour of people who cannot see and have been denied, therefore, till now the right to enjoy access to the works of great writers. Now, a door has been opened for them so that they can “read” the various literary masterpieces by themselves and not be dependent on the bounty of others.

How valuable this gain is for the sightless can be gauged from the observations of celebrated English writer Aldous Huxley, who said the advantage of a book in Braille is that it can be read in bed in winter while keeping it under the quilt so that one’s hands do not become cold. Considering that of the 37 million blind in the world, India has 15 million—making it the home of the largest number of such people—the number of libraries for them is pitifully small. With the advancement of technology, it should be possible to expand and improve the library services so that more “talking books” can serve those who need them.

Source : The New Indian Express , 4th July 2014