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Improve your Vocabulary and Donate Free Rice

Freerice.orgThis is a nice way to give charity while improving your vocabulary, and not actually giving any money from your side. Doesn't sound real, does it?

Well, the evidence seems to lead to its truthfulness. FreeRice.org is a non-profit organization which has two goals:
  1. Provide education to everyone for free.
  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.
Here is how it works:
You visit the website. On the front page you see a question and four answers with one being the correct one. At the bottom of the page there are ads from sponsors. The sponsors' ads get spread and they benefit from that, thus they pay FreeRice.org. If you click on the correct answer, 10 grains of rice are added to the database. FreeRice.org buys rice with the money it gets from the sponsors and donates this rice to hungry people through the UN World Food Program in certain countries of the world (see the faq page).

To further check the reality of the deal, as the website claims partnership with the UN World Food Program, you can visit the UN World Food Program website and search for "free rice" and you will see that they actually are known and admitted by them. It was also chosen as Yahoo!'s charity find of the year 2007.

The educative side of the program is vocabulary and some other topics. By default, the subject is English vocabulary but you have a wide range of subjects to choose from, including art, chemistry, English, geography, language learning (French, German, Italian, and Spanish), and math. You also have the option to save your total donation so that you don't start over from zero when you visit the website again but you start from the amount that you left.

You get one answer right, and you donate 10 grains of rice. You get 10 answers right, and that is about a dish of rice. I try not to waste time and games are generally a waste of time, but this really is not a game in its technical sense but, as the Kurdish proverb goes, "you hit two sparrows with one stone"; you improve your vocabulary and you contribute to the donation of free rice.

You can visit the website here:

www.FreeRice.org


I have found a number of other possible similar websites but I haven't reviewed them yet. One of them, FreePoverty.com, is almost similar to FreeRice.org only that it is focusing on geography in its subject and its focusing on providing free drinking water. The website is well-designed but according to the faq page they are looking for a non-profit organization to collaborate with them because something happened with the previous organization that donated the water on their behalf.

Gary Miller, the Muslim Daa'ee

It was about two years ago when, as I was browsing the web, I came across a book called "The Amazing Quran". I read the book and it contained some valuable arguments. I noticed the writer to be a certain Gary Miller. A long time passed and I remembered this book I had downloaded so I went to see the name of the writer (as I had forgotten it) so as to get more materials from him.

I found a page dedicated to this man on an abandoned website which hosted some lectures given by him and the page ensured not exaggerating about him. What I found out, mainly from his own lectures, was that this man was a convert. One nice thing about him was the fact that he didn't like to give an emotional story of how he became a Muslim. He is (or was) a mathematician and a logician. From what I learned about him in his own lectures was that he was a professor of mathematics and he had intended to take a year off from university to go around the world and give lectures about Islaam. After his conversion, he was also known as 'Abdul-Ahad 'Umar.

He was born a Christian and, according to what he says, even propagated Christianity in his life and had worked with various sects of Christianity. The reason for his conversion, he says, was what he had understood from the Bible. He repeatedly says in a number of his lectures that when he found out about Islaam, he said "this is what I've been saying for the past number of years". He had studied Islaam for quite sometime and had become a Muslim.

Since the time I found those lectures of him, I searched for him extensively a number of times spending hours to find out what had happened to this man, but with no results. All I found were Islaamic websites hosting either his "The Amazing Quran" or "A Concise Reply to Christianity" along with an emotional conversion story created for him. The only website giving some straight information about him was the website I mentioned above. It tells you not to search for this man because he is not participating in these activities anymore. This certain website itself seems to have been last updated on June the 16th, 2007. I sent an e-mail to the address on the website but with no reply. Another page that seems to be talking about him describes him as a professor of mathematics at the University of Victoria and that he likes building "his own telescopes and watches the stars from Metchosin outside Victoria". But no mention of Islaam is made.

I guess it doesn't really matter now what happened to him, rather what is left of lectures from him are beneficial. I admit that he says some things about Islaam and makes some claims of numerical miracles of the Qur'aan which are not all correct, and there is no need to believe those things. However, the information he gives about Christianity and the Bible, and the logical arguments that he offers are really of value. I enjoy listening to his lectures over and over.

There are also transcripts of his lectures on some websites and I wouldn't mind reading those but it is always better to listen to what he says in audio format lest there should be a mistake in the transcripts. The following link takes you to the webpage I mentioned earlier, and the audio files are available for download at the bottom of the page:

http://www.mydeviant.com/miller/gary_miller.html

One of the lectures, given by him and Ahmad Deedat, is also available in video format on YouTube divided into eighteen segments beginning from here.

If you know something about this man that you think is not likely to be available on the web you are welcome to share.

ASGAtech's Quran program review, free for some Nokia phones

Asgatech mobile Quran program first screenshot

ASGAtech is the name of the company that made this program. It is a cell phone Quran program that is actually usable. Even though I wouldn't say the company's name is.

This Quran program has style and speed, with a background that is easy on the eyes and a border that looks like a real Quran's.

After opening the program and seeing the welcome screen (pictured above), the list of Surahs opens. It is maneuverable up and down and sideways.

There are 5 font sizes, from 13 to 17. Below is a shot of the 17 setting on my phone, which is quite clear and sleek looking but doesn't show much text:

Asgatech mobile Quran program second screenshot

And here is the 13 setting:
Asgatech mobile Quran program third screenshot

Font size 15 has the balance between size and amount of visible text for me:

Asgatech mobile Quran program fourth screenshot


The text's 'harakat' are in red, though in a few chapters I found that they were in black. Probably a programming mistake.

Nokia offers a 191 megabyte recitation with it. I haven't used the recitation feature so I can't tell you if it doesn't cause minor ear damage due to bad quality.

According to the publisher's website the program's Quran text has been authenticated by the Azhar Academy and they are showing this document to prove it. It costs 20 euros on ASGAtech's website but Nokia is offering it for free on their Ramadan "microsite". Micro as opposed to what?

You can also find other Islam-related material on Nokia's place, like an Azkar program and a Hajj and Umrah guide, plus some phone wallpapers.

If you are Muslim, you are required to read Quran when there is time available to you:
Your Lord knows how you stay up close to two thirds of the night [in prayer and Quran recitation], half of it, and even a third of it; and [so do) a group of those who are with you. God measures out both night and daylight; He knows that you (all) will never count them up, so He has relented towards you.

Read whatever seems feasible from the Qur'an. He knows that some of you may be ill while others are out travelling around the earth seeking God's bounty, and still others are fighting for God's sake. So read any of it that seems feasible, and keep up prayer and pay the welfare tax, and advance God a handsome loan. Anything good you send on ahead for yourselves, you will find [later on] with God; it is better and more important as earnings.

Seek forgiveness from God;
God will be Forgiving, Merciful.
[Surah 73 (Al-Muzzammil): Ayah 20)

Reviewing Muslimah Connection website

Muslimah Connection logo

Asalaamu Alaykum, Everyone:


I took a look at the muslimahconnection.com website that was posted below and really liked what I saw. I anticipate that it will grow and blossom into something that is quite beneficial to Muslim sisters everywhere. Presently there is not an abundance of links and references, rather a small (but decent) collection of things. This is not a criticism -- it's an observation that at this stage many of the citations and references come from the Sister magazine and a few of the same individuals.

After browsing quite a bit, I read something really nice that affected me greatly. It can be found here.

I enjoyed it so much because it gives real life scenarios and examples of what being a 'sister' to another Muslim means. It answers the question: How can I be a good Muslim to other Muslims? Here in America, you find that... Well, many women don't know how to go about doing just that. Maybe in the Middle east you find Muslim sisters that are afraid or shy to ask others in the community for help because normally their families should/would be able and willing to help them, even though we know that is not always the case. When I visited Egypt most Egyptians assumed that I was from there and had connections; when they discovered that I was an international student they were so kind and helpful because they knew my family could not help me there. (sorry for the tangent! May Allah Bless them all for their hospitality).

The website seemed to have all the subjects that a (traditional) American Muslim woman would be interested in reading more about. It offered information on pre- and post -marriage advice, exercising, AND specific exercises that can be done with a baby/young child (how clever!), pregnancy and female stuff (that most girls are too shy to ask to a usually male scholar), and links to sites that sell hijabs and clothing.

The only thing that I would change, which ties into what I wrote earlier, is that there were a wide variety of sources and sites offered. I wonder why Shukr is not listed, or Desert Boutique, or Essence of Black (all reliable and good clothing sites that deliver to your home in the US) or Azizah Magazine the first American Muslim magazine to be distributed in the US? I don't know if this website is purposely linking only certain sites or if they have certain obligations to particular companies or if they are simply small and growing slowly.

I will give them the benefit of the doubt and continue to frequent their site, inshAllah, hoping it expands soon.

Quranic Names for boys and girls

So I've been reading (and there is always room for improvement of course) in an Arabic & English Quran since I last posted.
Lately what has interested me is the Arabic words from the Quran that can be used as names for Muslim babies. My name can be considered a "Quranic Name" and it's mentioned in more than one surah. :]
I've compiled a list of some of the ones I noticed and liked while reading. I tried to narrow their location down as best as I could (but I don't have the Quran in front of me now).
  • Abrar: Obedient believers. (Last Juz, maybe surah Inshiqaq)
  • Tasneem  :Water in Paradise that falls from heights. (Last Juz)
  • LuLu : Pearl. For girls. (Surah Ar Rahman)
  • Marjaan: Coral. For girls. (Surah Ar Rahman. The ayah goes "lu'lu' wal marjaan' so these could be the name of twin girls maybe)
  • Bayaan:  Eloquent demonstration. For both boys and girls, but it is more popular for girls. (Surah Ar Rahman.)
  • Bayyinah: Truth that is demonstrated eloquently, Allah uses this adjective to describe the Quran. It is derived from the same root as the previous name. For girls only. (Last Juz)
  • Illiyeen: The noble book that contains the deeds of righteous people on the Day of Judgement. For females. You could call her Lily for short (Last Juz.)
  • Shams: The Sun. For boys. Can be made feminine name by saying Shamsah.(All over the Quran)
  • Nur: Light. For girls. (as in sunlight). (Many places in the Quran)
  • Kareem: Generous. (Many places in the Quran)
  • Naeem: Bountiful. For boys. (Last juz, Mutafifeen)
  • Majeed : One who has greatness and valor. For boys only, its feminine form is Majeedah. (Last juz, Buruj)
  • Salsabil:  It's the name of fountain in Paradise. For girls. (Insaan.)
  • Raadiyah: Someone who is content. For girls only. (Last juz, Gaashiya.)
  • Raadhi: Someone who is content, for boys.
In conclusion, most of the Quranic names can be found in the last Juz. Probably because the last juz talks about heaven a lot (and punishment a lot too). The most unique names come from this part of the Quran, in my opinion. It would be cool to name your daughter after a fountain in jannah -- How awesome!-- and most others will not have that name since it's rare.
I'd love it if others could add to the list. I'd like to compile a long list of names some day and pass them out to friends that are pregnant.

Need Help? (FREE)

If you need expert help with a Islamic or Quranic name, wish to know its true meaning or pronunciation, or are looking for good name suggestions, please visit our new baby name website QuranicNames.com.

Update

Due to the great interest in Quranic names that we saw from our readers, we decided to create a Quranic names ebook: 30 Beautiful Quranic Baby Names For Muslim Boys and Girls. Please visit the ebook's page to download it for free.

eBook Description

The Holy Quran is the most important source of inspiration for Muslims, and this accessible book selects from it 30 beautiful words that can be used as baby names. Detailed analysis of the names and related concepts are given when appropriate. This book will be of interest both to those researching a name for a newborn, and those seeking to increase their knowledge of Islam and the Quran.

Please visit the ebook's page to download it for free.
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