Category Archives: BLOGS

Google Chrome to replace Adobe Flash with ‘much faster’ HTML5

Google Chrome will adopt the HTML5 technology instead of Adobe Flash, a move the company says will improve speed and efficiency of one of the most popular browsers.

Come September, Chrome 53 will begin to block the software opting instead for HTML5, a “much lighter and faster” option, the tech giant announced ina blog post on it’s website.

What this essentially means is that users will witness reduced page loading times and save more battery life.

Adobe Flash, while being the pioneer in bringing video, gaming and animation to the web, is also notorious for crashing quite often, and causing security issues.

By December, Chrome seeks to replace Flash content with HTML5 completely. The only difference users will encounter when visiting sites that require Adobe Flash is that they will be required to enable Flash.

Currently, Chrome blocks large chunks of Adobe Flash content but lets smaller processes run in the background, not only slowing efficiency but also sapping battery power.

Seven most unusual beaches of the world

WEB DESK: When someone says “beach” you probably think of yellow or white sand, rolling waves, bright sunlight and a beer or fruity cocktail. But beaches come in far more different shapes and colors than some of us might have expected. Here are seven beaches that, in one way or another, might not be anything like the beaches you’re used to.

Unique Glass Beach in California

1Image credits: digggs

The glass beach near Fort Bragg in California formed after the trash dumped there for years by local residents was pounded into sand by the surf. The dumping was eventually prohibited, but the glass sand remains.

2Image credits: digggs

Shell Beach, Shark Bay, Australia

13Image credits:

The water near Shell Beach in Australia is so saline that the cockle clam has been able to proliferate unchecked by its natural predators. It is this abundance of molluscs that floods the beaches with their shells.

17Image credits: Yahoo Images

Maldives Beach That Looks Like Starry Night Sky

3Image credits: Will Ho

The lights on this beach in the Maldives are caused by microscopic bioluminescent phytoplankton, which give off light when they are agitated by the surf.

4Image credits: Will Ho

Pink Sand Beach, Bahamas

5Image credits:

The idyllic pink sand of the Bahamas is pigmented by washed-up coral remnants, which are dashed and ground to tiny pieces by the surf.

6Image credits:

Green Sand In Kourou, French Guiana

7Image credits: Arria Belli.

8Image credits:

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii

9Image credits:

The black sand on Punaluu is formed by basalt lava, which explodes as it flows into the sea and rapidly cools.

10Image credits: poco a poco

Red Sand Beach, Rabida, Galapagos

11Image credits: Robert Peternel

The red sand at Rabida was formed due to the oxidization of iron-rich lava deposits, although it could also be due to washed-up coral sediments.

12Image credits: Robert Peternel

Notes from a classroom: Talking to children about sexual abuse

“If you were sleeping beauty, what would you do if a prince kissed you to wake you up?”

In my class of 15 fourth graders, very few respond. They want to know why they have to think about this. I remain patient, allowing them to process my question silently.

After all, their parents kiss them when they’re asleep. Many are forced to hug relatives and strangers because saying no is considered rude in our culture. And, very few of us are taught that there are situations where being touched without consent is not okay.

Most children, in fact, are not aware that they can refuse being touched.

Unlike adults, children don’t have the tools or comfort to communicate child sexual abuse (CSA) easily. They give hints, sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant.

I have seen kids dealing with abuse constantly act up in class, for example, or complain about being sick all the time.

Sometimes the hints are so subtle that most teachers don’t realise something is wrong. For example, if a child flinches when touched, that should be seen as a red flag.

Most people assume it’s a one-time reaction, not checking a second time, or not wondering why a child who never minded a pat on the head is suddenly upset by it.

As an educator, I hold myself responsible for teaching children to protect themselves, and in preventing CSA.

Very young children’s minds are tabula rasas, so teaching them about rights, consent and abuse is not a difficult task. Children learn through repetition, and when it comes to complex topics, constant reinforcement is crucial.

But to do so also requires creative thought that goes beyond any set syllabus. Luckily, the school I work in encourages and values creativity in teachers, allowing me to incorporate awareness for children in my lesson plans.

Hence the question about Sleeping Beauty, a problematic fairy-tale children and teenagers are exposed to repeatedly. Its messages regarding consent and gender roles are detrimental to their well-being, unless analysed critically.

Girls are taught to idealise the princess as passive recipients who yearn to be rescued by a prince, thus reinforcing the principles of patriarchal objectification.

Boys are taught that they can violate consent with impunity. The message hurts both genders. Boys can be, and are, victims of child sex abuse.

So, I ask the class to deconstruct the fairy-tale. “What messages do you get from this story?” works well as a prompt.

Their responses are often imaginative; once, a student said the message is about protecting kings from evil fairies.

Other responses are more disturbing, like students who express joy. “I would thank the prince and marry him for rescuing me,” is a common one.

Its underlying implication, however, is that children have not been taught they have rights, or that their body belongs to them alone. That discussions on consent— in the classroom— are sorely needed.

“What would you do?” the students usually want to know.

My reply surprises them, “Look, if anyone dares to touch me without my consent, then I will beat them up and take them to task for it legally.”

Some students laugh, perhaps out of shock; here is a woman pretending to be a weird kind of Sleeping Beauty who beats up her prince, and has him thrown in jail instead of marrying him!

I’m often asked why I would do such a horrible thing. I then show them this image.

Source: Feminist Disney
Source: Feminist Disney

From here, it is easy to move into a conversation about consent. What is consent? Why is it important?

I introduce the concept of children’s rights. I tell them they can assert these rights, such as the right to decide who can touch them. I tell them they have the right to refuse.

I also tell them that they have the right to ask for protection against anyone who doesn’t respect their physical space.

As a concluding activity, we brainstorm phrases that the children can easily learn and repeat. We finish with a slogan like ‘My body belongs to me and I get to decide who can touch it!’ and then take an oath to respect other people’s rights, since rights can’t exist without collective responsibilities.

Build strong children, don’t repair broken adults

In my personal experience, a one-time workshop on abuse is not enough. A word of caution for educators and parents: this concept must be reinforced, and constantly.

Children don’t have the language to articulate what is happening to them. Those who are groomed by abusers, may be aware they are being harmed, yet do not speak up. They don’t just need to learn how to report abuse, but also to recognise how grooming plays a part in it.

With multiple classes, an instructor can design coursework to address these issues. Most schools do not teach children’s rights, neither are teachers trained in the topic, but there are plenty of resources available online.

Unicef provides free online lesson plans; Kaleidoscope and Phuljajri textbooks by Simorgh include activities that facilitate a comprehensive understanding of children’s rights, responsibilities and social contracts; videos such as Komal from Child Line India explain how grooming works; and organisations like Sahil provide free counselling to victims of abuse, and are useful for parents and educators because children don’t have the knowledge or understanding to report sexual violence easily.

Whenever I bring up CSA and abuse in the classroom, children inevitably end up assuming that no one should touch them. They insist on their right to protect their bodies from doctors, to avoid vaccinations. They also start yelling “She touched me!” if a classmate accidentally bumps into them.

When this happens, teachers need to start a conversation on differentiating the various types of touch, such as accidentally bumping into someone versus intentionally hurting them.

These should be supplemented with discussions, both at school and at home. Helping them differentiate between types of touches, for example, could be an effective way to help children understand what consent means.

Rozan is an excellent resource for this concept; it breaks down thedifferent kinds of touches — good touch, bad touch and secret touch — to emphasise on one’s right to their body.

According to them, good touch is that which makes you comfortable and loved, for example being hugged by Dadi or kissed by Amma.

Bad touch is that which hurts you, for example, a slap or a hard push. And a secret touch is one that makes you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, e.g. sexual abuse of any sort, or when the abuser asks you to keep the touching secret.

It is important to remember that children need time to learn how to apply the concepts they are being taught. Simply lecturing them isn’t enough. Allowing fights to break out in the classroom is essential to the learning process.

At home, parents need to speak to their children about sexual abuse repeatedly, and respond to a child’s queries appropriately. While educators can ensure that children understand concepts, conversations in the space they feel safest are necessary in order to ensure that they are able to speak up if they are abused.

Instead of shutting down conversations that make us uncomfortable, we can help break the very cycles of abuse our children endure like a rite of passage.

Rigging US-style


CIRCLE the first, first letter of the alphabet in this line. Now write the word ‘noise’ backwards and place a dot over what would be its second letter should it have been written forward.

Done? Now draw a figure that is square in shape. Divide it in half by drawing a straight line from its northeast corner to its southwest corner, and then divide it once more by drawing a broken line from the middle of its western side to the middle of its eastern side. Once you’re done write every other word in this first line and print every third word in the same line (original type smaller and first line ended at comma) but capitalise the fifth word that you write.

You have 10 minutes to answer these and the 26 other questions, you can’t ask for extra time and you can’t ask the instructor to explain what these questions even mean. You can’t use the internet because you’re giving this test while being a black American in the US state of Louisiana in the year 1964. Oh and if you get any of these wrong, you’ve failed and won’t be able to vote.

This test was only one of the many techniques used to prevent black Americans from voting once they had acquired the legal right to do so after the civil war. After all, if black Americans could vote then they would likely vote out the good old boys (all white, all politically connected) who had a stranglehold on the levers of power. And since one couldn’t exactly bar them from voting outright, one could indeed make it virtually impossible for them to be able to register to vote. And when violence and intimidation failed, devices like the literacy test were made use of.

There has been much talk of rigging in the upcoming US polls.

Then due to pressure from the civil rights movement, the voting rights act was passed by the US congress in 1965 which prohibited racial discrimination in voting by enacting a range of safeguards.

Fifty-one years later, civil rights groups are warning that the 2016 elections may see record levels of voter disenfranchisement. Recently, an appellate court struck down North Carolina’s restrictions on early voting and a law requiring voters to carry picture IDs, saying that these laws had been enacted “with racial discriminatory intent” and targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision”. Judge Diana Motz pointed out that “African Americans dis­proportionately used the first seven days of early voting”, which is why North Caro­lina’s Republican legislature elimi­nated the first week of voting.

Moreover, data showed that “counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “dispropor­tionately Demo­cratic”, which is why North Carolina elimi­nated one Sunday as a voting day, as this is when black churches organise voters, even providing transport to those who cannot make it to the polling booths.

Many states have also recently passed voter ID laws purportedly meant to curb voter fraud but which in fact target African Americans who in many cases do not possess the required documents to ‘prove’ their citizenship or cannot afford the fees required to create those documents. In South Carolina for example, 178,000 voters (mostly non-white) don’t have any of the forms of photo ID the new law requires.

If you’re thinking getting an ID shouldn’t be such a big deal, consider that just last year Alabama tried to close 31 driver’s licence offices under the pretext of cost-cutting; it just so happens that most of these offices “were in rural areas with large African-American populations”.

Consider also that there is also no real evidence that the fraudulent voting the ID laws are meant to prevent even takes place.

Just a few years ago, these measures would have required ‘pre-clearance’ from the attorney general or federal judges, but that provision was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2013 in a decision rights activists called a “death knell”.

Even without that judgment there’s always the long-standing tactic of felony disenfranchisement; in many US states a person convicted of a felony offence is rendered ineligible to vote, and it just so happens that these laws have stripped one in every 13 black persons of their right to vote. That’s no surprise given that while African-Americans make up about 13pc of the US population they make up 40pc of the prison population.

There’s been a lot of talk of rigging in these elections, with Bernie Sanders’ supporters claiming the system was made to work against them and with Donald Trump now also warning that the upcoming elections will be rigged. They will be, but just not in the way one imagines.

For us in Pakistan, the purpose of this piece is not to engage in a bout of ‘see, it happens there as well’ but as a reminder that the price of liberty is constant vigilance and that democracy is a process, not a destination.

The writer is a journalist.

Twitter: @zarrarkhuhro


His Eminence
Shaikh Silsilah Naqshbandiah Owaisiah,

Ameer Muhammad Akram Awan 

Every Muslim holds a rational as well as an emotional relationship with the holy Prophet-saws. Our Prophet is both a guide and a symbol of human excellence in thought and practice, and therefore he is the most beloved for all Muslims. But, love has its own decorum and obligations. By far, the most important of such obligations is total surrender to the will of the beloved. There is no scope either for artificiality or superficiality. Although many Muslims may claim their allegiance to the Prophet’s message, an honest evaluation of our belief and conduct reminds us that we woefully fall short of our claim. Think about a Muslim; he claims his allegiance to Allah and His Messenger-saw, but bows his head before every idol that he comes across and his heart is the seat of idol worship. These are the idols that he has carved himself and represent his low desires, baseless customs and innovations. This is evident from his divergence from the way of Allah’s Messenger-saw. A Muslim of today has degenerated into idol worship yet regards himself as the adherent of Allah and His Messenger-saw. According to a Hadith, ‘He, who has no love for the Messenger’s way is not among the Muslims.’ Also, according to the Quran, He, who follows the Messenger, follows Allah.

But, it requires a sincere heart to understand the implication of this statement. Unfor­tunately, out hearts have hardened and readily accept everything but truth. Our thoughts, actions, inner and our outer self are in no way a remote reflection of our love for Allah and His Messenger-saw; love basically implies sincere obedience. According to the holy Prophet-saw there is a lump of flesh in the human body, if it is in order, the entire body re­mains in order; if that organ is in disorder, the whole body would be in disorder… and that lump is the heart. It is therefore necessary that we organise sessions in which we re­mind ourselves of our duty to Allah and His Messenger-saw, so that we revive our dead hearts and re-invigorate them to receive Allah’s Message, which is the sole purpose of our love for the holy Prophet-saw.

Allah’s complete and final Message has been conveyed to us through the Quran and the Sunnah. It is our duty to revive our knowledge of Allah’s Message as exemplified by the holy Prophet-saw. It is really strange that while the knowledge of Allah’s Message is available to one and all, we find an appalling diversity in our actions. How can our actions be different, when we are all beneficiaries of the same source of knowledge and guidance? It may be so because of our lack of sincerity and devotion in acquiring the true knowledge and translating it into practice. Although rain is equally beneficial to all regions of the earth, but practically that does not happen. The effect of rain on a region depends on the region’s natural ability to absorb the rain and benefit from it. An arid ter­rain remains barren despite rain, as a closed heart remains void despite the guidance of Allah. It is true that we have made our hearts barren and unavailable for knowledge to enter them. Allah speaks of such people in the Quran: Allah has put a seal on their hearts, on their ears, and on their eyes is a cover. This is because of our wilful ignorance and negligence.

Most of us were blessed to be born with the light of Faith, in Muslim homes, but our aversion to the path of Allah, as defined by the Sunnah of the holy Prophet-saw, has pushed us into ignorance. Consequently, in the guise of Prophet’s Sunnah we have inno­vated unfounded customs and traditions that are diametrically opposite to the Sunnah itself. There is no scope of innovation after the holy Prophet-saw has clarified every matter through his personal example. It is therefore, our duty to revive the true Sunnah of our Prophet-saw and give up innovations. This is the only way to secure the best in both worlds. Our waking and sleep, friendship and enmity, all affairs whether domestic or social, should be subservient to the Will of Allah. This is in fact the real success and honour, the glory of which cannot be perceived by our limited intellect.

But if we introspect ourselves and look at our way of life, it is full of hypocrisy; we are hardly Muslims. With our declining faith and decaying conduct, we now take pride in imitating un-Islamic practices and customs. Our lifestyle, dress and habits, everything is but Islamic. The most deplorable fact is, we have not only deviated from the Islamic way, but take pride in following the way of disbelievers. Love for the un-Islamic code is so strong that people are on the constant lookout to find new ways which bring them even closer to the disbelievers. While we do everything that is un-Islamic, we do not want to give up our claim of Islam; here lies our hypocrisy. Such an attitude, though self damag­ing and self-deceiving, is caused by a false notion that it is wrong to forsake one’s cultural heritage.

The Quran appeals to rationale and reason, and mentions that faith and guidance reside within the heart. Those who fill their hearts with avarice and covet worldly pleas­ures, may not damage their physical health, but their hearts surely begin to decay and die. This is because of their lack of respect for Allah’s Commands and disregard of obliga­tions to Him. It is due to their submission to the Devil and his enticement. This fact is highlighted by the Quran: Allah is the Friend of those who believe, He leads them to light out of darkness. Those who disbelieve, their guide is Shaitan, who leads them to darkness out of light.

During the lifetime of the holy Prophet-saw, there were people who rejected the truth after hearing it directly from him and chose to remain disbelievers. We are no better than those wretched people. We take pride in claiming Islam by our tongue, but our actions belie our claims. Why are people so paradoxical in their thoughts and actions? Their thoughts are morbid; their reasoning is confused; they hear but their hearing is impaired to perceive the truth. These signs signify the decay of heart. Due to the deviation from truth and disobedience to Allah, the heart is blotted away, bit by bit, until it becomes im­pervious to truth and is completely sealed off.

Every person has a direct relationship with his Lord. This relationship is implicit and confidential and no one else can discern it. Every good or bad deed is recorded very accu­rately and nothing is neglected. On the Day of Judgement, when every person is judged either to be rewarded with Paradise or punished in Hell, Allah’s Mercy will allow the holy Prophet-saw to intercede and take out from the Hell every soul that had possessed even an iota of faith in Allah and His Messenger-saw. However, there is a category of people about whom Allah advised His Prophet-saw not to care. No effort to bring them to the right path could avail them. Allah says that He had sealed the hearts of those people because of their callousness and wilful rejection of truth. It is in this state of the heart when facts appear as fiction, and truth appears as falsehood. There is no one else to blame but the rejecters of truth themselves.

To the lovers of truth, recitation of the Quran, in the proper way, evokes a feeling of closeness with truth and time seems to stop. The universe is drawn into a point and the votary experiences sublime bliss in his obedience to Allah and His Messenger-saw. Revival of the heart is very crucial to a Muslim because if the heart is not suffused with Truth, it allows lowly desires to set in. But, how carelessly are we allowing our hearts to decrease their capacity of accepting and retaining the truth. We have gone so far that we denounce the significance of Islamic injunctions. We do read the Quran, but we do it as if we were reading a book of fiction; this certainly affects our conducts. Our hearts may not be totally dead, but they cannot be considered as alive, because they have lost their capa­bility to recognise and firmly reinstate the truth.

The love for Allah is strongly emphasised in the Quran: Say, if you love Allah, follow me (the Messenger of Allah), then Allah will love you. It is mentioned in Hadith: ‘No one among you can be a true believer, unless he regards me dearer than his father, sons and entire mankind.’ This implies that unless one loves the holy Prophet-saw more than every one else, one will not realise the truth of the Message conveyed by him-saw. If someone loves his father, sons or friends more than the holy Prophet-saw, one is likely to place the advice of others over the Prophet’s Message. The absolute love to be given to the holy Prophet-saw is for the reason that he conveys to us the absolute Truth.

It is time we bind ourselves in the love of Allah through our devotion to the message brought to us by our beloved Prophet Muhammad-saw. Let the love of Allah be the guid­ing factor in our lives and in all our deeds. Let our hearts be filled with Allah’s pure love and our lives be governed by the example set by His Prophet-saw for us. Let us seek the bounties of this world and learn to harness the resources and the forces of nature for our benefit. But this pursuit should only bring us closer to Allah and His Messenger-saw. Let not the glamour of the worldly pleasures obscure the Truth from us.

Click : About Ameer Muhammad Akram Awan.