Wednesday, October 29, 2008


An old man lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson। Each morning Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading his Qur'an। His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could. One day the grandson asked, 'Grandpa! I try to read the Qur'an just like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Qur'an do?' The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied, 'Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water.' The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, 'You'll have to move a little faster next time,' and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead. The old man said, 'I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You're just not trying hard enough,' and he went out the door to watch the boy try again. At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would Leak out before he got back to the house. The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, 'See Grandpa, it's useless!' 'So you think it is useless?' The old man said, 'Look at the basket.' The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket and was now clean, inside and out. 'Son, that's what happens when you read the Qur'an. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be changed, inside and out. That is the work of Allah in our lives.'

25 ways to improve your conversations...

1. Be the first to say hello
2. Make an extra effort to
remember people's names and ask a person's name if you have forgotten it
3. Be receptive to new ideas and be open to other people's opinions and feelings
4. Show curiosity and interest i others and get enthusiastic about their interests
5. Tell others about yourself,what you likes are and the important events in your life
6. Keep abreast of current events and the issues that effect all our lives
7. Use "I" when you talk about personal things and don't use the word "you" when you really mean "I"
8. Show others that you are a good listener by restating their comments in other manner
9. Show your sense of humour when talking to others
10. Balance the giving and receiving information
11. Show others that you are enjoying your conversations with them
12. Ask other people their opinion
13. Look for the positive in those you meet
14. Start and end your conversation with a person's name and a handshake or warm greeting
15. Take time to be cordial with your neighbours and co-workers
16. Let others know that you want to get to know them better
17. Ask others about things they have told you in previous conversations
18. Listen carefully for free information
19. Be tolerant of other people's beliefs if they differ from yours
20. Change the topic of conversation when it has run its course
21. Always search for another person's "hot button"
22. Compliment others about what they are wearing,doing or saying
23. Encourage others to talk by sending out receptivity signals
24. Make an effort to see and talk to people you enjoy
25. When you tell a story,present the main point first and then add the supporting details afterward

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Study Tips for Midterms & Finals - Study skills & stress management for college student exam week

Ack, exams are coming! With midterms and final exams, students have two goals. First, you want to ace the exams, or at least get decent grades and do as well as possible. Second, there's your sanity; you want to get through exams with a minimum of stress and test anxiety. Fortunately, with the right study skills techniques, you can both manage your stress and do well on the tests. Here are some study skills tips for final exams to help you do well and stay sane.

  • Time management. Plan, plan, plan. Before finals begin, get out your calendar and schedule as much of your finals week as possible. Then stick with the schedule.
  • Schedule in study breaks. Don't plan to study non-stop for the next five days. You'll go insane, and you'll be too fried to do well on the exams. When you write your schedule, include short study breaks to help you recharge. You'll feel so much better and will be able to concentrate so much more. Here's some suggestions for great study breaks.
  • Schedule in sleep. Some people can function well on three hours of sleep a night. Most cannot. You'll do much better during exams if your mental state is good, and sleep is essential for this.
  • Exercise. There's no better source for stress relief. Just don't overdo it to the point that you're procrastinating heavily. Go for short, stress-relieving activities, like racquetball or a treadmill run. And don't underestimate the value of a brisk walk.
  • Prioritize. You have limited time to study and will have to choose what to spend the most time with. You could spend hours and hours on that math exam because if you do really well, you might be able to pull of a C. Or you can spend hours and hours on a history exam because if you do well, you've got a good shot at an A. It's up to you.
  • Form effective study groups. Just don't waste your time with lousy ones. Here are some tips for effective study groups.
  • Free your schedule. As much as possible, eliminate other responsibilities. Work fewer hours. Put off social events. Definitely put off shopping.
  • Ask your professor for help. If you're confused about your notes or the readings, go to the resident expert. This works much better if you don't put off studying until the last minute. It's a good idea to read through all of your notes before you start to study, so that you can inquire early about things that confuse you.
  • Keep things in perspective. What's the worst thing that can happen if you don't do well on this test? Excessive stress will make you crazy and hurt your performance on tests, so as much as you can, relax. And if you're having serious problems with anxiety during final exams, seek help at your school's counseling center. This is a common problem that schools are well equipped to help you with.

Ten Tips for Stress-Free Studying for Final Exams

Don't Cram At the Last Minute
I really can't stress this point enough. Cramming at the last minute is quite possibly the worst way to keep yourself from stressing out. When you cram, you're likely to panic and start worrying that you won't have enough time to study everything you need to. Instead, break your studying up into short, manageable bits. Study one course at a time, and take a break between subjects so you don't end up confusing yourself. Immediately before a test, you should review-not cram- a few notes to get yourself into the mindset you need, but don't do any heavy studying just before a test.

Get Some Exercise
During the frequent breaks you should be taking between study sessions, try getting some exercise. Going for a short jog or playing tennis or even just playing with a Frisbee for a bit can be a great stress reliever, as exercise causes your body to produce endorphins. You don't want to exercise to the point of exhaustion, but a bit of light exercise can be refreshing.

Do Something Fun
A lot of people try to "buckle down" during Final Exams and focus entirely on academics, but doing so is a good way to burn yourself out. Instead, try to do something fun, either alone or (preferably) with friends, such as go to a movie, read a (nonacademic) book, play board games, etc. Just don't get too sucked into these fun activities, or might forget to study.

Make A Schedule
Write yourself a schedule noting the times and dates of each of your finals. Then schedule study times for each Final. Schedule in a few fun times as well, then try to stick to your schedule. Put it in a visible place. Having a schedule will let you keep track of how much time you have at your disposal and how best to use that time.

Eliminate Distraction
It's very easy to get distracted during Final Exams, so do everything you can to avoid distractions while studying. Turn off televisions and computers and try to eliminate other forms of visual stimuli. Decide if you study best in complete silence or if you study better with background noise. Consider moving your study location to someplace that is not your bedroom.

Study With Friends
You aren't the only person dealing with Finals. Try to get together with friends and classmates to study. Stress is easier to deal with when you know other people are going through it too. Just make sure the group stays on-task, or everyone will just be wasting time.

Get Plenty of Rest
Your body deals with stress better when it is well-rested. While it's tempting to stay up very late to study before a big test, you'll do better if you go to bed in a manner that gives you the full seven to eight hours your body needs for rest.

Eat Healthy
Final exams often coincide with eating lots of junk food, but try to stay away from the junk and eat healthier foods instead. Instead of potato chips for a snack, try things like apple slices. Drink water instead of sodas. You'll have more energy and generally just feel better.

Be Careful With Caffeine
While caffeine can be a great way to give yourself a quick boost of energy, it can be a double-edged sword once the crash hits. Avoid energy drinks and the like, as the crash that comes along with them can often cause you to lose more time than the energy boost lets you make up.

Just Breathe
Final exams can be stressful, but they aren't the end of the world. Chances are, you'll do better on the final than you think you will. Anytime you feel yourself stressing out, just stop what you're doing, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, refocus, and get back to it.

Last-Minute Study Tips

No matter what exam you're taking, there are certain things you can do in the days before to ensure a successful experience. It makes sense to review what you've learned, but eating well, sleeping, and taking time to relax go a long way, too.


· It is important to be well rested. Make sure to get a good night's sleep in the few days before the test.

· If you don't sleep well the night before the test, don't worry about it! It is more important to sleep well two and three nights before. You should still have the energy you need to perform at your best.


· Don't change your diet right before the test. Now's not the time to try new foods, even if they are healthier. You don't want to find out on test morning that yesterday's energy bar didn't go down well.

· In the few weeks before the test, try to work a light, healthy breakfast into your daily routine. If you already eat breakfast, good for you - don't change a thing.


· Try to be aware of whatever anxiety you're feeling before test day. The first thing to remember is that this is a natural phenomenon; your body is conditioned to raise the alarm whenever something important is about to happen. However, because you are aware of what your body and mind are doing, you can compensate for it.

· Spend some time each day relaxing. Try to let go of all the pressures that build up during your average day.

· Visualize a successful test day experience. You already know what to expect on test day: when you'll get each test section, how many questions there are, how much time you'll have, etc. You also know where you are strong and where you are weak. Picture yourself confidently answering questions correctly, and smoothly moving past trouble spots - you can come back to those questions later.

· Find a family member or trusted friend with whom you can talk about the things that stress you out about the test. When this person tells you that everything is going to be OK, believe it!

Verbal Questions

· For passage-based questions, first work on detail questions that you can easily locate the answer to. Then move on to inference questions, questions that ask what the author intended, and main idea questions.

· If a question involves a tough vocabulary word, use the surrounding clues in the text to determine what it means.

Writing Questions

· Remember that a few spelling or grammar mistakes are tolerable, but you want to try to eliminate as many of those as you can.

· Try to vary your sentence length and word choice.

· Before you begin to write, spend a few minutes brainstorming ideas and outlining the argument you want to make. Planning will help you to write a well-organized and cohesive essay.

Practice and Review

· Whatever you do, don't cram for the test! It is a bad strategy because you aren't going to remember most of what you "learn" while cramming, and the odds are slim that the few things it will help you to remember will happen to be on the test. Save the energy you would have used to cram for test day.

· In the few days before the test, do a review of the skills and concepts in which you are strong. Be confident as you review everything that you know - and remember that confident feeling as you take the test.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) - doctor of doctors

Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Abdullah ibn Sina (980-1037 C.E.)

Ibn Sina was born in 980 C.E. in the village of Afshana near Bukhara which today is located in the far south of Russia. His father, Abdullah, an adherent of the Ismaili sect, was from Balkh and his mother from a village near Bukhara.

In any age Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna, would have been a giant among giants. He displayed exceptional intellectual prowess as a child and at the age of ten was already proficient in the Qur'an and the Arabic classics. During the next six years he devoted himself to Muslim Jurisprudence, Philosophy and Natural Science and studied Logic, Euclid, and the Almeagest.
He turned his attention to Medicine at the age of 17 years and found it, in his own words, "not difficult". However he was greatly troubled by metaphysical problems and in particular the works of Aristotle. By chance, he obtained a manual on this subject by the celebrated philosopher al-Farabi which solved his difficulties.

By the age of 18 he had built up a reputation as a physician and was summoned to attend the Samani ruler Nuh ibn Mansur (reigned 976-997 C.E.), who, in gratitude for Ibn Sina's services, allowed him to make free use of the royal library, which contained many rare and even unique books. Endowed with great powers of absorbing and retaining knowledge, this Muslim scholar devoured the contents of the library and at the age of 21 was in a position to compose his first book.

At about the same time he lost his father and soon afterwards left Bukhara and wandered westwards. He entered the services of Ali ibn Ma'mun, the ruler of Khiva, for a while, but ultimately fled to avoid being kidnapped by the Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna. After many wanderings he came to Jurjan, near the Caspian Sea, attracted by the fame of its ruler, Qabus, as a patron of learning. Unfortunately Ibn Sina's arrival almost coincided with the deposition and murder of this ruler. At Jurjan, Ibn Sina lectured on logic and astronomy and wrote the first part of the Qanun, his greatest work.

He then moved to Ray, near modern Teheran and established a busy medical practice. When Ray was besieged, Ibn Sina fled to Hamadan where he cured Amir Shamsud-Dawala of colic and was made Prime Minister. A mutiny of soldiers against him caused his dismissal and imprisonment, but subsequently the Amir, being again attacked by the colic, summoned him back, apologised and reinstated him! His life at this time was very strenuous: during the day he was busy with the Amir's services, while a great deal of the night was passed in lecturing and dictating notes for his books. Students would gather in his home and read parts of his two great books, the Shifa and the Qanun, already composed.

Following the death of the Amir, Ibn Sina fled to Isfahan after a few brushes with the law, including a period in prison. He spent his final years in the services of the ruler of the city, Ala al-Daula whom he advised on scientific and literary matters and accompanied on military campaigns.

Friends advised him to slow down and take life in moderation, but this was not in character. "I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length", he would reply. Worn out by hard work and hard living, Ibn Sina died in 1036/1 at a comparatively early age of 58 years. He was buried in Hamadan where his grave is still shown.

Al-Qifti states that Ibn Sina completed 21 major and 24 minor works on philosophy, medicine, theology, geometry, astronomy and the like. Another source (Brockelmann) attributes 99 books to Ibn Sina comprising 16 on medicine, 68 on theology and metaphysics 11 on astronomy and four on verse. Most of these were in Arabic; but in his native Persian he wrote a large manual on philosophical science entitled Danish-naama-i-Alai and a small treatise on the pulse.

His most celebrated Arabic poem describes the descent of Soul into the Body from the Higher Sphere. Among his scientific works, the leading two are the Kitab al-Shifa(Book of Healing), a philosophical encyclopaedia basedupon Aristotelian traditions and the al-Qanun al-Tibbwhich represents the final categorisation of Greco-Arabian thoughts on Medicine.

Of Ibn Sina's 16 medical works, eight are versified treatises on such matter as the 25 signs indicating the fatal termination of illnesses, hygienic precepts, proved remedies, anatomical memoranda etc. Amongst his prose works, after the great Qanun, the treatise on cardiac drugs, of which the British Museum possesses several fine manuscripts, is probably the most important, but it remains unpublished.

The Qanun is, of course, by far the largest, most famous and most important of Ibn Sina's works. The work contains about one million words and like most Arabic books, is elaborately divided and subdivided. The main division is into five books, of which the first deals with general principles; the second with simple drugs arranged alphabetically; the third with diseases of particular organs and members of the body from the head to the foot; the fourth with diseases which though local in their inception spread to other parts of the body, such as fevers and the fifth with compound medicines.

The Qanun distinguishes mediastinitis from pleurisy and recognises the contagious nature of phthisis (tuberculosis of the lung) and the spread of disease by water and soil. It gives a scientific diagnosis of ankylostomiasis and attributes the condition to an intestinal worm. The Qanun points out the importance of dietetics, the influence of climate and environment on health and the surgical use of oral anaesthetics. Ibn Sina advised surgeons to treat cancer in its earliest stages, ensuring the removal of all the diseased tissue. The Qanun's materia medica considers some 760 drugs, with comments on their application and effectiveness. He recommended the testing of a new drug on animals and humans prior to general use.

Ibn Sina noted the close relationship between emotions and the physical condition and felt that music had a definite physical and psychological effect on patients. Of the many psychological disorders that he described in the Qanun, one is of unusual interest: love sickness! ibn Sina is reputed to have diagnosed this condition in a Prince in Jurjan who lay sick and whose malady had baffled local doctors. Ibn Sina noted a fluttering in the Prince's pulse when the address and name of his beloved were mentioned. The great doctor had a simple remedy: unite the sufferer with the beloved.

The Arabic text of the Qanun was published in Rome in 1593 and was therefore one of the earliest Arabic books to see print. It was translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona in the 12th century. This 'Canon', with its encyclopaedic content, its systematic arrangement and philosophical plan, soon worked its way into a position of pre-eminence in the medical literature of the age displacing the works of Galen, al-Razi and al-Majusi, and becoming the text book for medical education in the schools of Europe. In the last 30 years of the 15th century it passed through 15 Latin editions and one Hebrew. In recent years, a partial translation into English was made. From the 12th-17th century, the Qanun served as the chief guide to Medical Science in the West and is said to have influenced Leonardo da Vinci. In the words of Dr. William Osler, the Qanun has remained "a medical bible for a longer time than any other work".

Despite such glorious tributes to his work, Ibn Sina is rarely remembered in the West today and his fundamental contributions to Medicine and the European reawakening goes largely unrecognised. However, in the museum at Bukhara, there are displays showing many of his writings, surgical instruments from the period and paintings of patients undergoing treatment. An impressive monument to the life and works of the man who became known as the 'doctor of doctors' still stands outside Bukhara museum and his portrait hangs in the Hall of the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Paris.

Selected References:
1. Edward G. Browne (1921) Arabian Medicine, London, Cambridge University Press.
2. Ynez Viole O'Neill (1973) in Mcgraw-Hill Encyclopaedia of World Biography vol I: Aalto to Bizet.
3. Philip K. Hitti (1970) History of the Arabs, 10th ed, London, Macmillan, pp 367-368
4. M.A. Martin (1983) in The Genius of Arab Civilisation, 2nd ed, Edited by J.R. Hayes, London, Eurabia Puplishing, pp 196-7

Monday, August 18, 2008


Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Musa al-Khawarizmi was born at Khawarizm (Kheva), south of Aral sea. Very little is known about his early life, except for the fact that his parents had migrated to a place south of Baghdad. The exact dates of his birth and death are also not known, but it is established that he flourished under Al- Mamun at Baghdad through 813-833 and probably died around 840 C.E.

Khawarizmi was a mathematician, astronomer and geographer. He was perhaps one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived, as, in fact, he was the founder of several branches and basic concepts of mathematics. In the words of Phillip Hitti, he influenced mathematical thought to a greater extent than any other medieval writer. His work on algebra was outstanding, as he not only initiated the subject in a systematic form but he also developed it to the extent of giving analytical solutions of linear and quadratic equations, which established him as the founder of Algebra. The very name Algebra has been derived from his famous book Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah. His arithmetic synthesized Greek and Hindu knowledge and also contained his own contribution of fundamental importance to mathematics and science. Thus, he explained the use of zero, a numeral of fundamental importance developed by the Arabs. Similarly, he developed the decimal system so that the overall system of numerals, 'algorithm' or 'algorizm' is named after him. In addition to introducing the Indian system of numerals (now generally known as Arabic numerals), he developed at length several arithmetical procedures, including operations on fractions. It was through his work that the system of numerals was first introduced to Arabs and later to Europe, through its translations in European languages. He developed in detail trigonometric tables containing the sine functions, which were probably extrapolated to tangent functions by Maslama. He also perfected the geometric representation of conic sections and developed the calculus of two errors, which practically led him to the concept of differentiation. He is also reported to have collaborated in the degree measurements ordered by Mamun al-Rashid were aimed at measuring of volume and circumference of the earth.

The development of astronomical tables by him was a significant contribution to the science of astronomy, on which he also wrote a book. The contribution of Khawarizmi to geography is also outstanding, in that not only did he revise Ptolemy's views on geography, but also corrected them in detail as well as his map of the world. His other contributions include original work related to clocks, sundials and astrolabes.

Several of his books were translated into Latin in the early 12th century. In fact, his book on arithmetic, Kitab al-Jam'a wal- Tafreeq bil Hisab al-Hindi, was lost in Arabic but survived in a Latin translation. His book on algebra, Al-Maqala fi Hisab-al Jabr wa-al- Muqabilah, was also translated into Latin in the 12th century, and it was this translation which introduced this new science to the West "completely unknown till then". He astronomical tables were also translated into European languages and, later, into Chinese. His geography captioned Kitab Surat-al-Ard, together with its maps, was also translated. In addition, he wrote a book on the Jewish calendar Istikhraj Tarikh al-Yahud, and two books on the astrolabe. He also wrote Kitab al-Tarikh and his book on sun-dials was captioned Kitab al-Rukhmat, but both of them have been lost.

The influence of Khawarizmi on the growth of science, in general, and mathematics, astronomy and geography in particular, is well established in history. Several of his books were readily translated into a number of other languages, and, in fact, constituted the university textbooks till the 16th century. His approach was systematic and logical, and not only did he bring together the then prevailing knowledge on various branches of science, particularly mathematics, but also enriched it through his original contribution. No doubt he has been held in high repute throughout the centuries since then.