Saturday, May 17, 2008


In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

Sometime ago (This is a lie. This never happened. I'm making this up for this entry), during one of the trips to a factory of a prominent company over here, as a sign of goodwill from the host, they served us ham sandwiches and beer for lunch.

Me, being a Muslim, in no ways lamenting the fact that I could not indulge myself in those ham sandwiches, decided to go outside and enjoy the wonderful spring.

It was then, my colleague came up to me and asked me,

"You are not eating? We are having sandwich inside."
(This is another lie because they don't speak English over here)

"No, thank you. I am full." I spoke untruthfully to him.

"You are always full. Are you really full? Or are you just saying that because you don't like the food over here?"

I am always full? I didn't know how he came up with that conclusion since this was the first time I even talked to him. I never have had the chance to do it before.

"No seriously, I am full. The food here is actually interesting but seriously, there is not an inch left in here for that sandwich." Another untruth being told as I rubbed my tummy, attempting to indicate to him that I was full.

"Just a little bite wouldn't hurt, would it now? It's free after all. Here, I have an extra sandwich here." And he took the unappetisingly ham-filled sandwich from his plate and offered it to me.

I didn't want to offend him but it's ham! I don't eat ham. Well even if it was turkey ham I still would't eat it. Unlike some people who believe that when you are away from home it is permissible to eat meat which are not slaughtered in accordance to Islamic guidelines, I don't eat such meat. So I politely said to him,

"Thank you for the gesture but sorry, I don't eat pork. My religion forbids it." as I said that, I realised that I should have really told him straight away that I don't eat pork. Feigning that I was full wasn't really a good idea.

"Oh, really? So thats why you are not eating this sandwich?"

"Yes. Thanks for the offer though."

"Oh, interesting. So you have never had any pork in your life?"

"'No, I haven't."

Which is the grammatically proper reply as opposed to the more popular reply of 'No, I did not.'

The question asked for an action which started in the past and is still happening in the present so we use the perfect present tense (have + perfect form of verb) instead of the simple past tense.

For actions that happened in the past (started and ended in the past) , we use the simple past tense instead.

So if my colleague had asked me "You had pork yesterday?". I would answer "No, I did not." because the action being discussed was in the past (in this case: yesterday). In contrast, the question "Have you had pork in your life?" asked about an action which is referring to our life. We haven't ended our life yet, so we use the perfect present tense.


1. The simple past tense is used to describe an action which was done in the past.
2. The perfect present tense is used to describe an action which began in the past but is still happening in the present.
3. When dealing with cultural differences in our lives, explaining is better than lying.

Allah knows best

Friday, May 02, 2008

Flowers in a vase

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

Ahh... spring. The time when the days are finally longer, the weather is getting warmer, joggers are back on their tracks, friends gather to grill (though summer would be a better time for grilling because it often rains in spring), and most importantly, the flowers, the natural crowns of mother nature, are blooming majestically.

Now is the time when SLR connoisseurs, well-abled and even the less well-abled photographers amongst them, take out their macro lenses to take pictures of flowers with which they would later upload it on their flickr pages, with sense of pride and satisfaction, expecting people to drop comments, praising their ability to take great pictures.

One fine day in this lovely spring, accompanied by a friend who is an SLR connoisseur like the one described above, we were on our way to the halal butcher when my friend pointed to the bed of colourful flowers by the roadside. Another trivial conversation ensued.

"Those flowers would really look great in my room.", my friend started the conversation ominously.

"Flowers? In your room? You being metro?"

"What do you think? They would fit perfectly well in my room, wouldn't it?"

"Don't you already have enough photos of flowers in your room? Thank God there are no bees in your room."

"Those are pictures. Not real flowers. These are flowers, real flowers! Perfect in my room I tell you!"

"Oh eh? So should we go the florist next?"

"Why should we? We could just take these ones here."

"Maybe you could, but I wouldn't. Is it right to take these flowers?"

"Eh, why not? These are flowers. Gift of nature."

"Subhannallah. But these are planted by the city council. Surely the flowers are planted to beautify the city. We should leave it as it is."

"But taking a flower or two wouldn't hurt."

"Are you certain? If you take these flowers, you would be taking what is not rightfully yours. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) forbade taking away what belongs to others without their permission.* Just like using the tram without a valid ticket, you are burdening others for the convenience that you are benefiting from. If is it not rightfully yours, should you take it?"

My friend paused for a while. Would he say that I was being pedantic? Or would he think that I was being uncool for not doing what is the norm but is essentially wrong?

But, all praise to Allah SWT, he concurred with me,

"Well, you got a point there. I never thought about it that way. Let us go the florist then. I could buy myself a vase as well. By the way, how do you pronounce vase?"

The conversation actually went on with me explaining the two different ways of pronouncing the word vase. Seeing that it is difficult for me to write here how I pronounced the word vase, here is a link where you can listen to the two different pronunciations of vase.


1. Vase can be pronounced in two different ways. Blame the Americans for the second pronunciation.
2. You can listen to the pronunciation here.
3. is a great site to learn the proper pronunciation of words.
4. People like to take macro pictures of flowers.

Allah knows best.

*Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 43, Number 654:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Yazid Al-Ansari:

The Prophet forbade robbery (taking away what belongs to others without their permission), and also forbade mutilation (or maiming) of bodies.

Disclaimer: I am neither an English native speaker nor a qualified English teacher.