Urdu Domain Poll

We are thinking of getting a separate domain for all the Urdu-related stuff we are doing. Help us decide on a domain name by voting for your choice.

We are thinking of getting a separate domain for all the Urdu-related stuff we are doing. This would include the following:

Help us decide on a domain name by voting in the poll below.


If you don’t like any of the choices available, feel free to suggest any others in the comments.

UPDATE: The poll would close on Friday, May 13.

Paging Captain Arrrgh

Senator Santorum is acting as a shill of “Big Weather” as he tries to ban the National Weather Service from providing weather forecast services to the public.

Captain Arrrgh, your Senator is again up to no good. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) wants to ban the National Weather Service from putting up free weather reports and forecasts on the web because that would be bad for the commercial weather companies, like State College-based Accuweather.

Do you want a seven-day weather forecast for your ZIP code? Or hour-by-hour predictions of the temperature, wind speed, humidity and chance of rain? Or weather data beamed to your cellphone?

That information is available for free from the National Weather Service.

But under a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, it might all disappear.

The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.

Supporters say the bill wouldn’t hamper the weather service or the National Hurricane Center from alerting the public to hazards — in fact, it exempts forecasts meant to protect “life and property.”

But how would the NOAA issue weather warnings if it doesn’t collect any weather data and run forecast models? And if it is doing all that, then why shouldn’t it be able to make it available to the public?

I use the National Weather Service XML feeds to put the current weather and 2-day forecast of Atlanta on the sidebar on the blog main page. That is a very useful and free service and I don’t know of anything comparable from The Weather Channel or AccuWeather.

Via The Carpetbagger Report.

اردو بلاگز کی دنیا

پچھلے چند ماہ میں میری نظر سے کئی نئے اردو بلاگ گزرے ہیں۔ میں نے ان کی حالیہ تحریروں کو اردو سیارہ پر یکجا کیا ہے۔ اردو وکی اور ہمارا اردو بلاگ کافی کارآمد رہے ہیں۔

پچھلے چند ماہ میں میری نظر سے کئی نئے اردو بلاگ گزرے ہیں۔ چنانچہ میں نے سوچا کہ ان کی حالیہ تحریروں کو ایک جگہ اکٹھا کیا جائے۔ اس کے لئے میں نے اردو سیارہ بنایا جہاں آپ تمام اردو بلاگز جن کا مجھے علم ہے کی پچھلے سات دن کی تحاریر دیکھ سکتے ہیں۔

اردو بلاگنگ کے بارے میں ہمارے بلاگ پر بھی کئی اچھے خیالات پیش کئے گئے ہیں۔ اردو وکی پر اب اردودانوں کے لئے اردو میں بلاگ شروع کرنے لے لئے کافی مواد ہے۔

اردو بلاگز کی فہرست اس پوسٹ کے آخر میں ہے۔ یہ وہ بلاگ ہیں جن سے میں واقف ہوں۔ اگر آپ ان کے علاوہ کسی اردو بلاگ کو جانتے ہیں تو مجھے بتائیں یا اس بلاگ کا پتہ اردو وکی میں خود ڈال دیں۔

In the last few months, I have found quite a few new Urdu blogs. So I thought it would be a good idea to aggregate their posts together on a single site. Thus was born Urdu Planet, which shows the last 7 days’ (or 60 most recent) posts from all the Urdu blogs that I know of.

Our weblog about Urdu Blogging has also done well, with some great ideas, tools and tutorials either written or in progress. Urdu Wiki is where most of the tutorials about installing Urdu support on your computer as well as blogging in Urdu are stored.

Finally, here is the current list of blogs which are either exclusively in Urdu or write some portion of their posts in Urdu:

I have translated some of the blog titles to Urdu or English. If you think I have erred in my very loose translation or you don’t like the translation of your blog name, please let me know.

If you know of any other Urdu blogs, please let me know or add them to the Urdu Wiki yourself.

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Interesting, considering that most of the time I have lived in the US has been in Dixie (however Dixie Atlanta is and that’s a whole another question) and my education was in the Pakistani dialect of British English.

Your Linguistic Profile:
60% General American English
30% Yankee
10% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Via Unfogged

Mazda RX-8

In our search for a new car, we test drove the Mazda RX-8 last weekend. It rides smoothly, but has less power at low rpms.

As we are looking for a car, we went test driving last weekend.

2005 Mazda RX-8 Shinka

The Mazda RX-8 is a very interesting car. The rotary engine definitely appeals to an engineering nerd like me. But at the same time, I realize that it is the only car using that engine and that could be a negative.

Mazda RX-8 is a nice looking car but sometimes it reminds me too much of Mazda6 and Miata, both of which I am not fond of. Among the available colors, the Black Cherry of the Shinka edition definitely stands out.

When the RX-8 first came out, I thought the reverse-opening rear doors were just a gimmick, but when we checked out the car last weekend, they turned out to be very useful. They will definitely help a lot in taking Michelle’s car seat in and out as well as getting Michelle into the car.

In terms of price, the base price of the RX-8 is very reasonable. However, that doesn’t include much in terms of comfort and the optional packages are expensive. Add leather seats, sunroof and a few other things and the price climbs quite a lot.

Speaking of the sunroof, it reduces the head room which is normal, but that reduction means my head touches the roof of the car. Now I am not a tall person (6 feet or 1.83m), so I didn’t expect that. It’s not a complete deal breaker as I could recline the seat a bit more than my usual position and that would work, but it’s definitely a negative for me.

We took Michelle’s car seat with us when we test drove the RX-8. When the infant car seat is in the rear facing position in the back, the front passenger seat has to be moved quite forward. I can definitely not fit in there, but Amber wasn’t too comfortable either.

During the test drive, the ride was smooth and changing gears was easy. I hadn’t driven a stick-shift in more than 2 years, but I found the stick to be simple and smooth. One downside of the car is that it is a high-rpm engine, so there is not a whole lot of power at low rpms. It does, however, accelerate quite nicely in the 3rd gear.

While the fuel economy of RX-8 is rated by EPA at 18/24 (city/highway) miles per gallon, which is not much lower than 19/26 for Infiniti G35, I have heard that the RX-8 gets poor gas mileage.

Overall, RX-8 is a nice sports car at a decent price. I like it reasonably well but I am not wowed by it. We’ll have to check out Infiniti G35 to make a decision.

You can also read Edmunds’ road tests.

Pray in Solitude

This is the story of Imran who can’t pray in a mosque now because his experience at a mosque last Ramadan haunts him.

Inspired by Tamatar1.

Imran2 was not a particularly religious Muslim. Therefore, it was not often that he went to the local mosque. Last Ramadan, he decided to go there for iftar since there used to be free iftar at the mosque daily. It was not that he was fond of free food. He was just a social person and this was the best way to meet his Muslim friends. Although he was not particularly religious at that time, he considered it rude to skip Maghrib prayers and appear at the mosque for the food. So he did his ablutions and joined the others for salat.

After the prayers, Imran was standing around waiting for the food and looking for his friend when the guy who was standing next to him during the prayers said “Assalam o Alaikum.” Imran had no hesitation in replying with “Walaikum Assalam.” To kill time, the two started talking. His name was Amir2 and he was somewhat new to the city. Imran was glad to have someone to chat with to keep his attention away from his starving intestines.

With the food starting to be distributed, Imran spotted some friends and said goodbye to his new acquaintance. “Amir seemed like a good fellow, so when he asked me for my contact info, I readily gave him my phone number,” Imran told me later.

Enjoying the good food and meeting friends Imran forgot about Amir. A week later, Amir called Imran. He wanted to go out with Imran but Imran was busy, so he blew him off. Time passed. Imran went out of town and forgot that he had told Amir that they could meet next month.

When Amir called again, Imran started feeling guilty about not hanging out with Amir. “I was about to tell him to go for coffee at the nearby Starbucks when I got a big jolt,” Imran said. Amir had just told him “I like you.” Imran didn’t want to believe that. He thought may be it was because Amir’s English wasn’t good. “I didn’t want to believe it, so I tried to come up with reasons not to. May be Amir didn’t understand the implications of his statement. May be his knowledge of English was to blame.” But no, Amir had an accent but spoke decent English. While Imran was busy trying to interpret Amir’s words, Amir dropped the bombshell. “I like men,” he said. That was it. Imran’s world was shattered. While he had nothing against gays and could even be said to be in support of gay rights, he had never imagined this. Amir was asking him out on a date.

After what seemed like an eternity of awkward silence on the phone, Imran picked up the courage to say “I don’t.” That was the end of it. Amir hung up and Imran never heard from him again. Imran felt embarrassed and kept this incident to himself.

Then Amina Wadud led a mixed group of men and women at Friday prayers in New York and it became the talk of all MSA’s everywhere. Muslims just couldn’t stop discussing it. During one such discussion, an MSA bigshot started talking of the distraction in prayer for men due to the presence of women. He described the sexual feelings praying shoulder to shoulder with a woman could arouse in men, who are “naturally weak.” There was also talk of having to endure a woman’s behind while praying behind her.

This talk suddenly flipped a switch in Imran. He got red-faced and embarrassingly admitted to the incident with Amir. He wondered what Amir had felt praying right next to him; whether Amir had looked at his backside when he moved to the next row for the Sunnah prayers later. As he thought about it, he felt strange.

That day was the last time Imran prayed in jamaat. When asked why he stopped coming to the mosque, he told me “I just can’t stop wondering whether the guys next to me are thinking sexually about me or if the person praying behind me is staring at me.” Imran wondered “these men are so close to each other during prayer; whenever there is an accidental touch during prayers, I wonder if it was intentional and sexual.” The only way Imran can pray now is in solitude.

Continue reading “Pray in Solitude”

G35 or RX-8?

Since our Honda Civic was totalled, we have had only one car. Now we are thinking of buying another. The car has to be a 4-seat sporty car since it must fit our daughter in her car seat…

Ever since our Civic was totaled in an accident, we have had one car. Most of the time, this car has been in use by Amber. Now we think we need another car. So I am looking for a new car.

I want a fun car to drive that should be fast, handle well (especially on curvy mountain roads) but be comfortable and reliable for the daily commute as well. Among other requirements, the car should have:


Horsepower200 hp(150 kW)

curbweighthorsepower13 lb/hp(7.9 kg/kW)

Torque150 ft-lb(203 N-m)

Originally, we were thinking of buying a roadster like Nissan 350Z, Honda S2000, Chevrolet Corvette or Porsche Boxster (Ok, so the last two were a bit out of our reach, but I can dream; wait, if I dreamed I would get this car). But with an almost-eight-month old kid, that is not practical. So now our choices are limited to 4-seaters, though the requirement of sportiness is still there.

The cars I am considering are the Infiniti G35 Coupe and Mazda RX-8, both with manual transmission (more fun and Amber can’t drive it!). Does anyone have any thoughts on either of these cars? Opinions of owners of G35 or RX-8 would be especially appreciated.

The infant/toddler/booster seat will definitely be an issue. The larger convertible or 3-in-1 seats don’t fit in either G35 or RX-8. Infiniti has a list of seats that fit in the G35, but even then I need to check how problematic it would be to put my daughter into a rear facing car seat. But I like the G35 coupe much better than their sedan. And let’s face it, the Coupe looks like the 350Z.

Also, feel free to chime in with other models that you think I could like.

Amina Wadud Led Prayers

Dr. Amina Wadud, a woman, recently led the Friday prayers of a group of men and women in New York. There has been a lot of discussion and criticism of her action. While I don’t want to delve into whether it was Islamic or not, I have some general thoughts about related matters.

You have probably heard about the Friday prayers in New York led by Dr.Amina Wadud. This event has started a flurry of activity among Muslims; College MSA’s are sending lists of fatwas against this “fitna” to their mailing lists, bloggers are writing about it on their weblogs, and so on.

Hijabman was there and gives us an eyewitness account. He also has links to a couple of other attendees.

One of the better posts in the blogworld making the case for a woman leading prayers was by Nevin Reda at Muslim Wakeup while Hina Azam at alt.Muslim had a good critique of that argument.

I am not going to argue for or against here, but let me make a few general comments. Hina Azam is indeed correct that the traditional methods of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) must be engaged to make a cogent argument. I think there hasn’t been much good work providing a vision and structure to modernist Islam in this direction. However, at the same time, limiting oneself to traditional fiqh could be too rigid and legalistic. There are some interesting issues in this discussion and I might return to it when I review Dr. Fazlur Rahman’s book ‘Islam’.

Among the arguments I have read against a woman leading prayers is that Islam gave women rights 1400 years ago. This is not strictly true, at least not in the sense we understand women’s rights today. Islam did set some basic parameters especially in the context of 7th century Arabia, but the rest of the progress is up to us. As I have written before, I do not think that Islam, as a practical matter i.e. as practiced by actual Muslims, was ever perfect or even can be perfect, but we as human beings have made some progress in minority rights, women rights, etc. and the practice of Islam would (and should) improve with these developments. The rigid idea that Islamic practice, whether women’s rights, slavery or other issues, was fixed in the 7th century (Salafi idea) or the 10th century (traditionalism) is really quite problematic. This obviously does not mean that we discard everything from the Quran, Hadith (narrations of Prophet Muhammad) or even fiqh. But we do need some fresh perspective. Again, this is something Fazlur Rahman discusses in his book.

A common refrain (shades of Larry Summers?) of some Muslims is that men and women are different. While it is true that gender has a genetic basis, there is a strong social aspect to gender conditioning as well. Plus should we generalize to all men and women? Am I a “girly man” for spending time with and taking care of my daughter? How much should the alleged differences between men and women determine the difference in social responsibilities or legal rights? The concept sounds somewhat like “separate but equal,” which is a great way to discriminate against any group.

I have also heard that this act won’t help Muslim women’s rights, which is true as far as that goes. The act of a woman leading mixed prayers is more symbolic than anything else. Symbolism has its uses and benefits but its impact is also at times blown out of proportion. A related criticism is that this was a media stunt. I am not familiar with any of the organizers, other than from reading Muslim Wakeup once in a while. So I can’t say anything about their motives. But media and publicity are absolutely necessary for symbolic acts like this. After all, it’s the media that made this an event everyone knows about.

پاکستانی پاسپورٹ میں مذہب واپس

اکتوبر میں جب پاکستانی پاسپورٹ بین الاقوامی معیار پر تبدیل کیا گیا تو اس میں سے مذہب کا خانہ نکال دیا گیا۔ اس پر پاکستان کی مذہبی جماعتوں کو تکلیف ہوئی۔ انہوں نے اس قدم کے خلاف انتہائی نامعقول دلائل دیئے اور احتجاج کیا۔ اب کچھ دن پہلے حکومت نے سر جھکا دیا اور مذہب کا خانہ پاسپورٹ میں واپس ڈال دیا۔

جیسا کہ میں نے پہلے لکھا تھا اکتوبر میں جب پاکستانی پاسپورٹ بین الاقوامی معیار پر تبدیل کیا گیا تو اس میں سے مذہب کا خانہ نکال دیا گیا۔ اس پر پاکستان کی مذہبی جماعتوں کو تکلیف ہوئی۔ انہوں نے اس قدم کے خلاف انتہائی نامعقول دلائل دیئے اور احتجاج کیا۔ اب کچھ دن پہلے حکومت نے سر جھکا دیا اور مذہب کا خانہ پاسپورٹ میں واپس ڈال دیا۔

پاکستان کی حکومت نے نئے کمپیوٹرائزڈ اور مشین سے پڑھے جانے والے پاسپورٹ میں مذہب کا خانہ شامل کرنے کا اعلان کیا ہے۔

[…] اس مسئلے پر دینی جماعتیں گزشتہ ایک برس سے شدید احتجاج کر رہی تھیں اور ان کی حالیہ حکومت مخالف مہم میں پاسپورٹ کے خانے کے مسئلے کو مرکزیت حاصل تھی۔ دینی جماعتیں نئے پاسپورٹ میں مذہب کے خانے کے نہ ہونے کو امریکی دباؤ کا نتیجہ قرار دیتی آئی ہیں۔

تاہم وزیر اطلاعات کا کہنا تھا کہ سابق وزیر اعظم ظفراللہ جمالی کے دورِ حکومت میں نئے پاسپورٹ جاری کرنے کا فیصلہ کیا گیا تھا اور اسی دوران مذہب کا خانہ ’نظرانداز‘ ہو گیا تھا۔

[…] انھوں نے یہ ماننے سے انکار کیا کہ یہ فیصلہ دینی جماعتوں کے دباؤ پر کیا گیا ہے۔ وفاقی وزیر کے مطابق یہ ایک عوامی مطالبہ تھا جو پورا کر دیا گیا۔

کیا حکومت پاکستان کوئی فیصلہ سوچ سمجھ کر نہیں کر سکتی؟ اور اگر اب پوری کابینہ مذہب کا خانہ واپس لانے پر متفق تھی تو اسے نکالنے کا فیصلہ کس نے کیا تھا؟

آخر پاسپورٹ میں مذہب کے خانے کا مقصد کیا ہے؟ مجھے تو کوئی فائدہ نظر نہیں آتا۔ ہے کوئی مائی کا لعل جو اس خانے کے حق میں دلائل دے سکے؟ اور ہاں میں مذہب کے خانے کے فوائد کے لئے ہمہ تن گوش ہوں، نہ کہ یہ سننے کے لئے کہ یہ امریکہ یا احمدیوں کی اسلام یا پاکستان کے خلاف سازش تھی۔