Archive for April, 2007


Pahela Baishakh  first day of the Bangla year. Pahela Baishakh is celebrated in a festive manner in both Bangladesh and West Bengal. In Bangladesh Pahela Baishakh is a national holiday. Pahela Baisakh falls on April 14 or 15.

Under the Mughals, agricultural taxes were collected according to the Hijri calendar. However, as the Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar, the agricultural year does not coincide with the fiscal. As a result, farmers were hard-pressed to pay taxes out of season. In order to streamline tax collection, the Mughal Emperor akbar ordered a reform of the calendar. Accordingly, Fatehullah Shirazi, a renowned scholar and astronomer, formulated the Bangla year on the basis of the lunar Hijri and Bangla solar calendars. The new Fasli San (agricultural year) was introduced on 10/11 March 1584, but was dated from Akbar’s ascension to the throne in 1556. The new year subsequently became known as bangabda or Bengali year. Continue reading


Dr. Muntasir Mamun.

 

 THE first day of the Bengali calender-year is celebrated as the New Year in Bangladesh. As Enamul Huq has written: “The first day of the festivities performed to mark the commencement of the New Year is actually a specific festival day.”


One such day is the Bengali New Year. Its main characteristic is that it is not a festival of the Hindus or the Buddhists alone. It is universal in nature. In fact, festivals not related to faith but secular in character are rare in the world. Enamul Huq visualizes this universality in the collected prayer for rain when men and women long for the clouds during the hot Bengali calender-year (corrsponding to Mid-April to Mid-May). He writes-“Praying to the clouds for water is another popular ritual of he Bengali New Year.”
Continue reading

The Tower of Babel

After the Deluge, Noah’s descendants settled in the lowlands of Sinear, not far from the Euphrates. The spoke a common language and formed a single community. Genesis 11 tells their story: ‘And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ In addition, the tower had to serve as a landmark to keep people together, despite the fact that God had commanded Noah and his sons to ‘replenish’ the earth (Genesis 9:1). Also, the tower could be used as a safe haven in case of a new flood.The Tower of Babel

God looked down upon these industrious souls, and judged that in their ambition they were trying to equal him. So he decided to punish them with the Confusion of Tongues. Since people could no longer understand each other, they were scattered over the earth at last. The site of the event would from that day on be known as Babel, apparently meaning ‘confusion’. Continue reading

Apocrypha

The origin of the word apocryphon is Greek, meaning “closed” or “hidden”. This refers to the books being kept away from common souls. St. Jerome (Hieronymus, ca. 342-420) used the word to indicate the books that were not part of the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh, but were included in the Greek Septuagint Bible. Today the word usually refers to a series of mostly pre-Christian religious books not part of the official, canonical Bible.

Most of the apocryphal books in the King James Version are part of the Old Testament in the Catholic Bible. Catholics refer to these books as deuterocanonical: they are part of the Bible (i.e. canonical), but became so only after the first list had been determined (hence deutero). The deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament are: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, 1 en 2 Maccabees and the Additions to Daniel and Esther. Some books in the New Testament are also considered deuterocanonical: Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, Jude and Revelation. Protestants, however, regard these books as fully canonical. Continue reading

April 10, 2007

CARLSBAD, Calif. — On a marquee outside and on a banner inside, Pilgrim United Church of Christ proclaims, “All are welcome.” Sustained by the belief that embracing all comers is a living example of Christ’s love, Pilgrim now faces a profound test of faith.

In late January, Mark Pliska, 53, told the congregation here that he had been in prison for molesting children but that he sought a place to worship and liked the atmosphere at Pilgrim.

Mr. Pliska’s request has plunged the close-knit congregation into a painful discussion about applying faith in a difficult real-world situation. Congregants now wonder, are all truly welcome? If they are, how do you ensure the safety of children and the healing of adult survivors of sexual abuse? Can an offender who accepts Christ truly change? Continue reading

The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he/she may do so in the presence of others.

If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahada”, the testimony of faith, without further delay. The “Shahada” is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam.

With the pronunciation of this testimony, or “Shahada”, with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.

Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of God, all of one’s previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. The Prophet said to a person who had placed the condition upon the Prophet in accepting Islam that God would forgive his sins:

“Do you not know that accepting Islam destroys all sins which come before it?” (Saheeh Muslim)

When one accepts Islam, they in essence repent from the ways and beliefs of their previous life. One need not be overburdened by sins committed before their acceptance, but if the sin involved usurping a right of another human, such as stealing, then they should strive their utmost to return what was wrongly taken. The person’s record is clean, and it is as if he was just born from his mother’s womb. One should try as much as possible to keep his records clean and strive to do as many good deeds as possible.

The Holy Quran and Hadeeth both stress the importance of following Islam. God states:

“The only religion in the sight of God is Islam.“ (Quran 3:19)

In another verse of the Holy Quran, God states:

“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the Hellfire).” (Quran 3:85)

In another saying, Muhammad, the Prophet of God, said:

“Whoever testifies that there in none worthy of being worshipped but God, Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Prophet, and that Jesus is the Slave of God, His Prophet, and His word[1] which He bestowed in Mary and a spirit created from Him; and that Paradise (Heaven) is true, and that the Hellfire is true, God will eventually admit him into Paradise, according to his deeds.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari) Continue reading

Pattani, Thailand- Unknown assailants attacked an Islamic
boarding school and mosque with war weapons in Yala province, part of
Thailand’s troubled deep South, in a dawn assault that left 16
injured, police said.
Police said the unknown assailants used M-79 rocket-propelled
grenade launchers to fire on the school in Yaha district of Yala, 760
kilometres south of Bangkok, an area that is already under curfew.

The attack injured 16 people, most of whom were teenage students,
said a Yaha police officer who asked to remain anonymous.

A grenade was also fired on a nearby mosque shortly after the
school attack, but no one was injured.

Yaha has been under a night to dawn curfew since last month, when
suspected Muslim militants attacked a passenger van in broad
daylight, killing eight Thai-Buddhists, including three women, but
spared the life of the driver, a Thai-Muslim.
Continue reading

 

Key historical dates:

 

1390-1902

 

Independent sultanate of Patani, comprising the present-day provinces of Patani, Yala, Narathiwat, and parts of Songkhla, ended when the

Kingdom of
Siam formally incorporated the sultanate.

 

1909

 

Anglo-Siamese Treaty recognized Siamese control over Patani and drew a border between Patani and the Malay states of Kelantan, Perak, Kedah and Perlis. The local aristocracy was deposed in favour of officials who spoke only Thai and reported exclusively and directly to
Bangkok.

 

1932

 

Constitutional monarchy was introduced with a parliamentary government.

 

1938

 

Regime of Phibun Songkhram came to power and it followed a policy of forced assimilation into mainstream ‘Buddhist Thainess’ aimed at creating the monolithic character of the state.

 

1940s

 

Emergence of Patani People’s Movement (PPM), a separatist movement fighting for an independent Patani

 

 

1948

 

250,000 Thai Malays petitioned the UN to oversee the accession of Patani, Narathiwat and Yala to the new Federation of Malaya.

 

 

28 April 1948

 

Dusun-nyor riot: clashes between Muslim villagers and police and military forces, led by religious leader, Haji Abdul Rahman, resulted in the deaths of some 400 Muslims, thousands more fled to Malaysia

 

 

1950s

 

Expansion of Malay resistance was accelerated by formation in Malaya of the Gabungam Melayu Patani Raya (GAMPAR, the Greater Patani Malayu Association), an organization set up to incorporate Thailand’s four majority Muslim provinces into Malaya and the Patani People’s Movement, a Thailand-based organization with the same goal.

 

1959 Continue reading

 

Time reports on ‘America’s broken-down Army’

RAW STORY
Published: Thursday April 5, 2007
 


 

President Bush’s rush to send thousands of additional troops into combat in Iraq has pushed the US Army to the point of crisis, according to an article by Mark Thompson in Time.

As a result of the increased pressure to add more troops on the ground in Iraq, soldiers are receiving inadequate training, leaving them less equipped to handle combat. Time writes of one soldier, Matthew Ziemer, who was killed just two hours after taking up his combat post in Iraq, having been in Iraq only a week. Prior to deployment, Zeimer received nine weeks of basic training but was forced to miss the standard 4 weeks of pre-Iraq training that troops deployed previously received.

“Instead, Zeimer and about 140 other members of the 4,000-strong brigade got a cut-rate, 10-day course on weapon use, first aid and Iraqi culture,” writes Thompson. “That’s the same length as the course that teaches soldiers assigned to generals’ household staffs the finer points of table service.”

According to Thompson, that lack of training may have contributed to Zeimer’s death. “Zeimer’s mother was unaware of the gap in her son’s training until TIME told her about it on April 2,” he writes. “Two days later the Army disclosed that Zeimer may have been killed by friendly fire.”

The Army has been stretched thin in other critical areas as well. “Disintegrating” equipment, lack of armor, and more frequent deployments with shorter breaks have led retired Army general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell to declare the active Army “broken.”

Gear and equipment is now left in the war zone for use by newly arriving troops, which “grinds the equipment into scrap up to 10 times as fast as in peacetime,” Thompson writes. “The lack of guns and armor back home has a boomerang effect: many of the troops training in the U.S. are not familiar with what they’ll have to depend on once they arrive in Iraq.”

Extended deployments with shorter breaks are leading to a decrease in morale and an increase in cases of suicide, desertion, and post traumatic stress disorder.

“Ever since the war started, they’d be saying all they wanted to do was to get back to their buddies in Iraq to keep on fighting,” one retired general said of wounded soldiers he visited at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “Now it’s more about getting out and wondering about civilian jobs. There’s very little chatter about rejoining the unit.”

Excerpts from the article follow…

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A volunteer Army reflects the most central and sacred vow that citizens make to one another: soldiers protect and defend the country; in return, the country promises to give them the tools they need to complete their mission and honor their service, whatever the outcome. It was Bush, on the eve of the 2000 election, who promised “to all of our men and women in uniform and to their parents and to their families, help is on the way.” Besides putting Powell at State, the President reinforced his Administration with two former Defense Secretaries: Vice President Dick Cheney and, in the job for a second time, Donald Rumsfeld.

So it is no small irony that today’s U.S. Army finds itself under the greatest strain in a generation. The Pentagon made that clear April 2 when it announced that two Army units will soon return to Iraq without even a year at home, compared with the two years units have traditionally enjoyed. One is headed back after 47 days short of a year, the other 81. “This is the first time we’ve had a voluntary Army on an extended deployment,” says Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who advises his old service. “A lot of canaries are dropping dead in the mine.”

The main consequences of a tightly stretched Army is that men and women are being sent into combat with less training, shorter breaks and disintegrating equipment. When those stories get out, they make it harder to retain soldiers and recruit them in the first place. “For us, it’s just another series of never-ending deployments, and for many, including me, there is only one answer to that—show me the door out,” wrote an officer in a private e-mail to Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey.

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LINK TO FULL TIME ARTICLE