Martin Luther King

 

MLK

 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Dr Martin Luther King Junior (MLK for short) was an American pastor (clergyman), the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the founding leaders of the US Civil Rights movement (rights for minorities or more specifically blacks in USA).  He was one of the greatest ever orators (speakers) of USA.

Most Influential Black Person in US History

MLK is one of the top few Most Famous Black Americans. In my opinion he is the number 1 Black person who brought most significant change in US society especially for Blacks. His quotes are truly inspiring; especially a lesson for Muslim nation which is under oppression but sleeping happily, waiting for its situation to improve without doing anything:

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”

Slaves Born to Serve

MLK’s family was one of the millions transported from Africa to US to work as slave labour. They were treated sub-humanly. Their houses, churches, schools, and as such lives were segregated from whites. They were there to serve not live. It was people like MLK who fought for justice & equality, and brought a change in the US law, eventually in the mentality of the people.

Colour Based Segregation

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

Christianity was Central to MLK’s Life

MLK was born on 15th January 1929 to a religious family in Atlanta, USA. He completed PhD in religious studies and became pastor of a Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama following the footsteps of his father and grandfather. An incident was about to happen that would bring him to the main stream politics, and change the history of USA.

 “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

Montgomery Bus Boycott:

Rosa Parks, a middle aged woman was returning home in 1955 after a long shift at work. Tired, she boards a bus belonging to the “Montgomery Bus System”. Blacks were only allowed to sit at the back of the bus. Soon the bus driver tells her to move to the back of the bus so that a white can sit in her seat, Rosa refuses! She was arrested and the news broke in the media. This was the start of an incident that changed the history of USA, especially the black people’s.

Rosa Parks Arrest

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Black communities were informed and mobilised through local churches to boycott the bus company. The protest against the separation & discrimination of black people on buses grew and grew; buses went emptier and emptier as days passed.

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”

MLK got involved in this movement and soon became known in the whole USA. The 382-day boycott forced the bus company to change its regulations, and the Supreme Court declared such segregation unconstitutional! This was a great success for the Civil Rights Movement.

Just Walk – No Bus Ride

Mahatma Gandhi:

MLK came across Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent means of struggling which were used against British in India. It inspired MLK deeply; he promoted non-violent protests against discrimination of blacks in USA based on the methods of Gandhi. He then visited India in 1959.

MLK an Untouchable (Shoother)

Low caste people in India are referred to as Shoothers. These are considered as untouchable (unclean). MLK was due to speak at a school where Children of Shoohter studied. The principal of school introduced him as ‘I would like to present to you a fellow untouchable from the United States of America’. In MLK’s own words:

“For a moment I was shocked and even peeved that I would be referred to as an untouchable’,” MLK said he then started to think about the fact that 20 million of his brothers and sisters were still smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in an affluent society. “And as I thought about this, I finally said to myself, yes, I am an untouchable and every Negro in the United States is an untouchable”. This incident had a profound effect on MLK; inspiring him to struggle more vibrantly.

Water has no Colour then Why??

“In the end; we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

 

Whites Worked Alongside:

Many white people who valued a human being irrespective of his skin colour also joined his movement. There were many whites who believed in justice and equality but still they were in minority in this big country.

White & Black – Fighting Together for Equal Human Rights

“I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.”

 

Opposition to Vietnam War & Work against Poverty:

MLK opposed US war against Vietnam. This act didn’t go down well with establishment and the army. He was not alone, Muhammad Ali, another legendary Black American do so too. Towards the last years of his life he started focusing his efforts against poverty in US. In 1963, King led mass protests in Alabama against the discrimination where the white population were violently resisting Black rights. King was arrested and jailed for his part in the protests.

“Time is always right to do what is right”.

The Great March on Washington – The Largest Political Rally in USA:

After his release, King participated in the enormous civil rights march on Washington on 28th August 1963, the largest ever political rally in the history of USA. The rally’s theme was “Jobs and Freedom”. Estimated participants were between 200,000 & 300,000. About 80% were black and rest were whites.

The Great Washington March 1963

I Have a Dream:

MLK delivered his famous speech ‘I have a dream’ here, predicting a day when the promise of freedom and equality would become a reality in America.  He declared:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”

In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Philanthropy (giving Charity) is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”

Blacks Get Right to Vote:

In 1965, MLK led a campaign to allow blacks to vote. The same year the US Congress passed the “Voting Rights Act” allowing blacks the right of voting. It was only 45 years after women in US got the right to vote in US.

MLK is Killed

He was assassinated on 4th April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. The killer was sentenced to 99 years in jail. It is unclear who was behind the murder, though the killer claimed it was CIA. His birthday is celebrated as MLK Day and is a national holiday in USA.

MLK’s Philosophy in Short

  •  Oppressed must demand his rights from oppressor – you get nothing without asking
  • Struggle should be non-violent
  • Don’t let others manipulate you – no one can ride your back until YOU bend it.
  • And Think, Think, Think – Why are we in this Deep Trouble and What is the Right Solution?

 “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Oslo Norway

I visited Oslo Norway this week. It was my 4th visit there. Oslo is the capital & biggest city of Norway. It is a small charming but very expensive city, declared the most expensive city in 2010. Norway is in north of Europe and part of Scandinavia, so obviously full of natural beauty. Sea, snow, sailing, seafood & smiling people, lakes and lush green lands summarise it well. Norway’s population is just 5 million. The country is shaped like an animal with small head & a long tail (just look at the map). Sweden s on one side and sea on the other. Sweden and Norway are connected to each other as Pakistan & India do. Food, habits and language are similar if not the same. Once Norway was part of Sweden, separated in 1905. Currency is called Kronna or Crown, probably because it carries the image of King’s Crown.

Oslo Covered in Snow

Oslo city is called Tigerstaden (Tigerstan – City of Tigers). I don’t know why; there is not a single tiger in the whole country. The city was completely destroyed with fire in 1624. It was rebuilt on a separate place and named Christiania upon the orders of the then King Christian. Later the new city expanded merging the location of old Oslo into it. The city was named back to Oslo in 1925. It’s population is only 0.7 million, yet it is the most populous city in Norway.

Norway Fjord

A fjord (a narrow stretch of sea with land on both sides) starts from Oslo and goes a long way through Norway. The route in stunning beautiful, filled with hills, waterfalls and jungles. Our office is right at the spot where it starts.

Scandinavia / Nordic Region:

Four neighbouring countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finlad are referred to as Nordic region or Scandinavia (without Finland), since these are situated right in the north of Europe & the world. Due to their proximity to North Pole, winters are harsh, long and dark. Days are very short in winter and very long in summer. Ever since I started reading about Europe, I had wished to visit this area.

Oslo – Nov 2011

The Nordic region is known for its low population, stability, rich natural beauty, technological advances, high taxes and good welfare system.  Scandinavia has contributed highly in the field of telecommunication; Ericsson (Sweden) and Nokia (Finland) provide more than 50% of the world telecommunication networks and handsets respectively (this was true in 2010, not so anymore).

Norwegian Ruling System:

Norway follows parliamentary democracy with the King as a symbolic head of state and prime minister as the political leader. The country is divided into 20 counties. By the way Oslo is the name of a county as well as a city within.

King’s Palace without Security:

King’s Palace Oslo

I stayed in a hotel right in the heart of Oslo. City centre is small so can be covered in 30 mins by foot, so I did. We walked up to the Kings Palace. The flag was flying, so surely he was inside, but I was shocked to see that there was no security at all, no gates, no fence & no police. We just walked right up to the doors. There were only 2 guards invisible to the eye inside two booths on each side of the door. In fact there is only one building in the whole Oslo that is under security, and that is US Embassy. It was an amazing sight; the Palace is only 2 streets away from the prime minister’s office where Oslo bombing occurred only 5 months ago.  By the way, the prime minister’s office is in a multi storey building; the top floor is used as his office and the other floors are occupied by different government officials. How different is it to a Palace looking Pakistani prime minister’s office;

There is a good lesson for our leaders. Leaders of Norway look after their people. Their leaders live among them fearless. Our leaders hate us, don’t look after us hence live a life of fear behind a huge security. But remember, no matter what security apparatus you gather around you, your fate is inevitable; just remember Saddam, Qaddafi, Mubarak!

Oslo Bombing & Shooting May 2011:

A maniac terrorist Anders Behring blasted bombs outside prime minister’s office and then shot at innocent young people at an island nearby killing 69 ordinary people. It was a sad and shocking incident.

Talking about the massacre, it was a relief for the immigrants especially Muslims that it was done by a Norwegian. There are 40,000 Pakistanis living here (35% of total immigrants, other biggest group is Somalians). Had it been done by an immigrant, it would have made the whole community’s life difficult.

Gronland:

Gronland – Little Karachi

During one evening I intended to visit a mosque. There is a district next to the city centre called Gronland. It is full of immigrants and hence multi cultural shops & restaurants are abundant. As soon as I entered the area I found a cabin (khokha) selling jalebi, samosa and other desi snacks, couple of shop down the road was Lahore Karahi restaurant. The mosque was just few streets away. I tried to enter but all the doors were locked. Strange, it was only 7 pm. I was told that prayer time is over. People have prayed Isha (last prayer of the day) and gone home. I was disappointed and decided to search for another one. There is another mosque just 5 minutes walk away.

Soon I was trying to open its door but It was also locked. There were two Pakistanis having chat in front of the mosque building. I approached them and enquired, I want to pray, where could I do so? Come with me, taking a key out of his pocket, one replied and unlocked the door for me. Just close the door on your way back, he summoned. I was surprised the see many people inside, praying, reading Quran or just chatting. Probably this is common in Oslo to lock the doors. Anyhow I prayed and then left the mosque.

Making Way through a Glacier

The weather here is usually cold. Winters are harsh with lots of snow. But people are used to it; life goes on like normal no matter how much snow had fallen. It wasn’t much this year though. Days are very long in summer and very short in winter; in fact sun doesn’t set in summer and rarely shows up in winter in far north. Streets around Oslo city centre have heating underneath so snow melts away. Some restaurants have seating outside with blankets and heaters installed. No thanks, not for me, I’m fine inside.

Staying in Same Room:

Me & my Swedish colleague were staying at the same hotel. As we turned up at reception to check in, we discovered that we both are booked in the same room! Our Chinese colleagues would share the same room to save cost and the secretary had done the same for us by mistake. Two male staying in the same room is a big taboo in the west but not an issue in east. I believe this is due to the fact that people don’t like considered gays whereas this ‘relation’ is neither acknowledge nor considered in east generally. So it is normal for two male friends to hold hands, hug each other or stay in the same room. Western society is hypocrite & gender-biased on this issue. It is OK if a woman touches another woman but not OK if a man touches another man. I think this is due to the fact that deep down they know this relation is unnatural. Although media portrays as if this issue is accepted by the society but people haven’t really accepted it inside.

Lake, Hills and Jungle

Anyway, my colleague was shocked to discover that we were booked in the same room. I was shocked too, but for a different reason. I had to use alarm to get up for Fajar prayer around 3 am and this would have definitely meant a big disturbance for him. It was late in the evening and there was no other room available. We were tired. This hotel was a bit out of the city. It would be a real trouble to go back to city centre and search for another hotel with luggage in our hands. Ah…..we decided to bite the bullet and stay in the same room, it was a matter of only one night after all. Luckily there were two single beds in the room.

Shock:

Soon we got into the room, freshened up and laid in beds to sleep. Midnight passed, suddenly my colleague shook me and woke me up. You are snoring very loudly Kashif. Oh sorry I uttered. The poor man couldn’t sleep, I snored really bad. He got up early next morning, freshened up and left before I left the bed so I could get ready in comfort. He was such a gentleman.

Washroom & Water:

Washrooms in Scandinavia are such a luxury. They have water facility inside the toilet cabin so it is easy to wash up, unlike other western countries where toilets are without water. Unfortunately many Middle Eastern countries follow the same western style making ablution difficult.

Few Shining Scandinavian Habits:

People are very friendly and open generally. They haven’t seen many foreigners so would approach you with genuine inquisitive queries. Scandinavians start work early, usually before 8 am, lunch starts 11.30 and you rarely find anyone after 4pm. They hate working overtime. And they love sailing & skiing; sea and snow is in their blood.

An interesting habit followed in Nordic offices is that every morning a big basket of fruit is placed in the middle of the office so you enjoy fresh fruit all day long!

The End..

Poor Picking Food

This photo was taken in Lahore in early January (Click to Enlarge). What does this photo tell you?

  

 1-      A poor man is picking food from a pile of rubbish and eating it.

 2-      Two little girls are collecting waste to burn as fuel.

 3-      None of them are wearing any jumper or jacket, nor proper shoes. Do you know how cold the weather is in Lahore now days? It often goes below zero during night.

Shame on You Our Leaders! Dont you remember the rulers who were fearful even if a dog was hungry. People are eating from rubbish and you sleep in your palaces safe & satisfied.

 This photo obliges us to be Thankful to God for being in far better state than them, and:

 1-      Not to Waste Food that Allah Ta’ala has blessed us with.

 2-      Look around you and Give Charity / Sadaqah as much as you can, or as little as you can.

 3-      There will be many jumpers, Jackets, Sweaters, Shoes and clothes that you very rarely use. Give these to needy. Donate them to a Charity. It is simple and Easy. Just put them in a bag and hand it to your servant or driver. He will do the rest. Or hand them to poor walking along the street. But Don’t Wait, Please DO IT NOW.

4- Work to bring back the true & Just Islamic Ruling System, also known as KHILAFAT that ensures each & every person under their rule is fed.

Omar RA reported that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was asked that what is the best action? He replied,

” To bring happiness to your Muslim brother brings great reward. If he is hungry then feed him. If he does not have dress, then clothe him. If he is needy then fulfill his need.” Tabrani

And our Propphet SAW Said:

“He who finds relief for one who is hard pressed, Allah would make things easy for him in the Hereafter”.

 

 

Office Work in China

SHANGHAI – Visited in 2008

PART 4 (Read Part 3 Here)

Sleeping China after Lunch:

After the breakfast, we started working in office as you would anywhere in the world. Then came the lunch break, everybody left for lunch together at 12.30. And everybody came back at 1.00 pm together again. Suddenly all office lights were switched off. Workers pulled out the small foldable sleeping mat, pillow & a blanket from under their tables, laid them next to their desks and fell asleep. It was nap time! It was common for Muslims to take rest after lunch. They introduced it in Spain where it was called siesta but it is not practiced anymore. But it is common in Chinese offices & school also. It is called Wujiao in Chinese.

Beds under the Desk

It is a healthy habit and refreshes the person well. Since I was not used to it, I kept awake. Lights turned on again at 2pm sharp. Around 4pm, a mellow semi-load music began pouring out of the ceiling speakers. It was exercise time! Everyone rose from their chairs and exercised together for 10 minutes. Hmm… very interesting routine.

Work, Work & Work:

We left office around 6pm. Most people were still working; late or extra-late working is common, so is working on weekends. Most people leave their families in another city so they can concentrate on work. To me this way of working was very disturbing but for these people it is a culture so they don’t even complain. This emanates partly from the fact that communism doesn’t recognize human as a ‘human’. Rather, he is considered as a machine whose sole purpose is to work for the state. So work becomes the focus of life. Family or private affairs are regarded as secondary. Secondly, there is cut-throat competition for jobs. There are far more candidates for far less jobs. As a result people work donkey hours; productivity goes down, as does the innovation!

Shanghai Buildings

Receipt is a Must on Taxi:

System is very strict and controlling here. In a way it is good because it forces people to follow the law. Driving in China is only slightly better than Pakiland. There is no regard for pedestrians. But they never break the traffic signals, even at night. Sellers in China always provide a printed receipt without asking, even taxi drivers with their name and taxi number printed. This makes cheating difficult (not impossible though, humans are innovative beings!). Taxis are metered & cheap. If a passenger suspects any wrong doing he can call a number to complaint. They work out the approximate fare based on his travel distance and force the driver for full refund in case of any cheating. Talking about travel, there is a telephone number which travellers can call to obtain any travel-related advice in English.

Never Say No:

I did not see much police; I was told there is secret police around. Residence is mostly in high rise flats since land is very expensive, especially in big cities. All the residential compounds had entrance gates and guards just like Pakistan. I asked my Chinese colleague why there are guards? Is there a lot of crime here? He simply ignored my question. This is one of the habits of Chinese, they are very conservative; will never say no to you nor convey any unpleasant thing to you, just conveniently bypass the subject.

Boss invites us Home:

Romeo approached me secretly on Friday afternoon informing me that our Chinese boss is inviting us to his home to spend weekend with him. This is unheard of inviting colleagues to one’s home in western world so Romeo was confused. It was very kind of our boss but we didn’t want to disturb his family life. We both decided to politely refuse him. But he cornered us in a room and started planning the journey. He lived in a historical city of Nanjing which is about 100 miles away from Shanghai. Looking at his enthusiasm and friendly gesture we gave in. It was good decision to make; soon we were embarking on an interesting & unforgettable journey. We packed few clothes in a bag hastily and then left office just after sunset heading to the Shanghai central railway station.

Waiting in Queue to Board a Train

 Train, Touts and Ticket in Black:

It was a rainy day and 1000s of people were rushing home for the weekend. Living in different city and commuting to work is very common in China. We reached the train station soon. I was shocked to see long queues outside. It is not allowed to enter a train station until you have a valid ticket. And it was not possible to buy a ticket at the last minute. It was a tricky situation. There were touts around the station selling few pre-booked tickets in black. Our boss approached few of these touts but the prices were too high. Eventually a deal was struck with a lady after long negotiations; it was decided that we will pay certain amount, but only after boarding the train. So she escorted us inside. On the way she winked at the guard who looked away & we marched straight in behind her, obviously without tickets! There were even longer, individual queues inside for each train. We waited till the desired train arrived. The platform gates opened and we ran to get inside like maniacs. Most seats were pre-booked, rest were on first come first serve basis. Other than crowding, it was such a modern train; state of the art, fast & comfortable, running at 200km/hour.

Inside a Train during Festive Season

Train Travel & China’s New Year:

The Spring Festival or Chinese Lunar New year is the most important traditional festival of family reunions. It is usually celebrated between end January & mid February depending on the new moon. Nearly half the Chinese population (about 700 million) are expected to travel within country during this time. You can only imagine this many people travelling on trains. Chinese railway system is excellent besides some corruption here & there. However they can never beat ours. Ex-railway minister Sheikh Rashid started 10 new train services without acquiring new bogies. Pak railway just painted the old cabins and started the new services. 9 out of 10 new services failed miserably so the next management abolished them. Current minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour is taking Pak railway to new heights now days! It is on the verge of closing – just so sad. Railway is the backbone of a country’s transportation network. It is vital for ordinary people as well as army.

Anyway, soon we were flying towards Nanjing, the old capital of China!  (To be continued).