Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ijtema 2008: Flooded with rain, Flooded with Blessings

The days of Ijtema are the most eagerly awaited days of the year to me. Since I came to Uttara I didn't miss attending this grand event. It's a huge opportunity to listen to the elders of Tabligh who come here from all the corners of the globe, inspiring us to work on Allah's path, spread the words of Quran and Sunnah. This year I knew I wouldn't be able to attend all three days, as the classes and exams were too heavily scheduled as we are heading towards the end of the semester. But man desires and Allah decides. Due to continuous rain and chilling winter cold, the Ijtema was cut short into just one day. I saw a glimpse of the misery of the people at Ijtema on Thursday. I went there at Asr and the scenario was totally miserable. It was raining from above, the water dripping down through the canopies. The clay roads were all muddy, making it a huge task to move around. People were finding no place even to put their luggage. At several spots I saw men removing mud using bottles and pots from the ground where they are supposed to stay for three days. I couldn't stay for much longer and headed back home. As I was returning, I could here our very own Maulana Zubair speaking about patience through the hurdles in life. He referred to the Sahabis (Ra), saying that they never prayed for their troubles to be gone, instead they prayed that they would face tougher challenges, so that they can prove themselves in the test of Imaan.
At Friday, the situation was getting even worse. So after the Maghrib prayers, the seniors of Tabligh and two people from each Zilla was called on an emergency meeting, from which the decision came to halt the proceedings of this year's Ijtema after the Isha prayer. The eagerly anticipated so called 'Akheri Munajat' was held at about 8:00 pm.
Apparantly it seems as though the Ijtema has been foiled, that it has failed its purpose. But it might not be so. Maybe this years Ijtema would be far more successful in achieving its goals than recent years. Allah tests the steadfastness of His subjects through all states and conditions, to see how strong they stand on the path of Allah, despite the state they are in. India's Maulana Saad said at the bayaan after Maghrib, that this seemingly failed congregation would bring many times more blessings from Allah than any other, and the far reaching positive effect of this Ijtema would be seen very shortly Inshallah. I guess what he meant is that through this turn of events, people will find new inspiration, encouragement and spirit to work for the sake of Deen Islam.
One immediate example of what Maulana Saad said was observed in the representation of the Ijtema by the media. Most of the times, when the electronic media covers this event, they hugely fail to bring out the true purpose of Ijtema, which is to send out Jamaats of Tabligh throughout the country and the world, to call people towards Allah. This year I was surprised to see a clear difference. I saw the report made by private broadcasters Channel-I on their news after the day Ijtema was terminated. I was really delighted to note that the true goal of Ijtema was indeed brought out clearly enough. In the papers as well, I saw similar changes. Pamphlets distributed by the government sponsored by Grameen Phone, which contained the map of the Ijtema ground, also mentioned the necessity of the work of Tabligh. These things are quite different from the previous years.
So in the same tone as all the Muslims of the country, I pray to Allah that this Ijtema which is apparently flooded by the rain, is in fact flooded by the Blessings of The Almighty.

Monday, January 21, 2008

AUSTronics goes public !

Finally ! AUSTronics goes public. For those who don't know yet, AUSTronics is an online magazine for the students and teachers of the EEE department of AUST. Me and some other guys from our semester, under the supervision of our boss Adnan sir, have been working on this site for the last couple of months or so. The site was ready long before and today we decided to go public, which generally means putting up posters announcing the site.
Honestly speaking, this site is not a very huge project. It's a blog which we are using to post articles. But there were quite a lot of work that had to be done in building up the complete site. Let me just try to give a brief summary.
  • The Idea: AUSTronics is the brainchild of Adnan sir. He initially discussed this plan with me and Kanto, and asked us if we were interested. We were always eager to spend some time in the net (whether for something productive or just wasting time). Me and Kanto also had gathered some experience in amateur web development using GPC and blogger over the last year. During the last semester I also learned the basics of HTML. So we were quite interested in this project. So the journey of AUSTronics began.
  • Choosing a Service: First of all we had to chose a blog service. The candidates were Blogger, Wordpress and Edublogs. The Wordpress templates looked professional, but each template had some drawback, and the templates' HTML were not customizable. Adnan sir found a likable theme at Edublogs. But we finally ended up dumping it due the permanent header image. The problem with blogger was that the usable area was narrow and left a blank space on each side of the blog, making it look unprofessional. But after searching a little, I found a template which uses the full width of the screen, and the color scheme was also pleasant, not too flashy( later I found out that all the templates can be widened by editing the template's HTML). The great thing about Blogger is that it is highly customizable. Unlike Wordpress, it allows you to edit the HTML of the template, which opens up endless possibilities. It allows JavaScript and DHTML so we could add cool menus and other stuff. So we decided to start with Blogger.
  • Gmail Account: To receive posts we created a gmail address, post.austeee@gmail.com.
  • The Name: We were having trouble deciding the name of our magazine. "AUSTronics" (combining AUST and Electronics) was suggested by Adnan sir. There were a few more contenders, Electrozine, Emitter, Electromotive. Being unable to go for one we decided to hold a pole in the four of our sections. And it was a landslide victory for "AUSTronics".
  • Collecting Articles: All of us had to go to the teachers of our department several times to request them to submit their articles in the upcoming site. Everyone seemed very interested and eager to participate in the magazine, but getting submissions from them seemed to be a tough job. By the end of our initial deadline, we had only collected one article. After a few weeks we somehow managed 5 (frankly, we didn't expect much more).
  • "Read More" Links: One problem with blogger was that it didn't provide "Read More" links by default. These links allow only a portion of the article to be visible in the main page, the visitor can read the rest by clicking the link. So I had to dig into the Blogger help group to find out how it can be done. Without much trouble I found out the trick and implemented the necessary HTML on our template.
  • Google Pages Account: To store various files I created a Google Pages account using the gmail ID we created earlier.
  • Header Image and its Width: We had to have a custom header. But there was a problem even before we could create one. We found out that the header images, once uploaded, get automatically shrunk, and the image covers not more than 60% of the page width. I knew this had something to do with HTML so yet again I turned to the help group. But this time it didn't help. The locations the experts were pointing to had no problem in this case. So I decided to try to sort out the problem myself. After a long session going through line after line of codes, I was finally able to locate the source of the problem. After a few trial-and-error attempts, I finally overcame the width bug. Then comes the issue of the image itself. To create the background of the header image I searched the web to find appropriate photos. As the background, I put up 4 relevant images and used a blueish tint to match the color scheme of the blog. Now creating the textual logo of AUSTronics was Shorif's job. And he did a fantastic piece of work. Interestingly he was able to incorporate the AUST logo into the text. His logo fitted perfectly with the background, and the header was done. But the trouble weren't over yet. When the images were uploaded, although it was now fitting the full width, for some reason the quality of the image was being reduced. So I had to upload the image to the GPC account and used the image from the web source.
  • JavaScript Menu: There are many sites providing free JavaScript and DHTML codes to create menus. I went through a lot of those sites and finally settled for the current menu. The JavaScript files were uploaded to the GPC account. Customizing this menu needed some time to understand. It is highly customizable, so after learning how to change the different aspects of the menu I made it according to the context of our site.
  • Microsoft Frontpage: Unlike Wordpress, blogger doesn't provide multiple pages. But we had to create some pages dealing with About AUSTronics, How to post, Feedback and Links. So I used Frontpage. To make sure that the viewer doesn't take these pages to be separate from the original site, I had to use the same template. To do that I just saved the main page as an HTML file, and edited it with Frontpage. So the theme remained exactly the same. The text for About AUSTronics, How to post and the links were provided by Adnan Sir. The HTML files created were uploaded to the GPC account and were linked to, from the JavaScript menu.
  • Feedback Form: Typically if you create an HTML form for feedback, what it does is simply opens your default email software to send the mail, unless you knew CGI scripts. From a GPC help site I got to know about a service called Jot Form, which makes the whole process a piece of cake. I decided to give it a shot, and I wasn't disappointed. The form is easy to use, and the message is directly sent to our email address without any hustle. It works great.
  • Short URL: A shorter URL address for the blog was created using a URL redirection service (shorturl.com).
  • Bookmarking Buttons: I implemented two social bookmarking buttons, one for simply bookmarking the site, the other for subscribing to the RSS feed of the blog. The buttons allow you to add bookmarks to your browser or to the various social bookmarking services like Page Flakes, Technorati etc.
  • Custom Favicon: Favicon is the small icon that appears at the left of the page title (like the "G" of Google). I created the favicon just by snapping the "A" out of our header image. The image was created in 32X32 size in png format. Putting it up was easy as blogger allows you to edit the head section of the template.
  • Google Analytics: I inserted the Google Analytics code to acquire various statistics about visits on our site.
Now, let me see, did I miss something? I know it's not a lot of job, but this is the first time I'm putting my web expertise (hahaha) to a real test. Hopefully this blog will be visited by a lot of people, students and professionals. So I hope that the site is at least standard, if not too decorative and extraordinary. AUSTronics has just started its journey and I'm sure it will go through a lot of changes. Now Razie, Tahsin and Shorif have been given the job to publicize the site, which I'm sure they'll do pretty well. I guess some posters have been already put up in the notice boards announcing a new era at AUST (hahahaha). I'm not too far off the mark if I say that, because as far as I know this is the first ever online publication by AUST students, of any department. Tahsin is optimistic about putting up the news on the tech section of Prothom Alo and The Daily Star (believe me, he had much bigger plans).

In many cases you plan to do something so seriously, make a lot of preparations, and in the end fall short, or don't get on the road at all. All praises to the Almighty Allah, we have been able to do what we wanted to do. Special thanks to Adnan sir for his friendly supervision over the complete project. He has been our "Chief Adviser". Actually Adnan sir has even bigger plans centering AUSTronics, I hope all his revolutionary ideas come to life. Congrats to my team mates in this project; Shorif, Razie, Tahsin, Kanto, Arif for making AUSTronics a reality. Thanks to all of my friends for their encouragement. Inshallah by Allah's help and the support of all, AUSTronics will go way further than we can imagine.

Through the Winter Rain

This morning I woke up just like any other day at 5:50 am to attend the Fajr jamaat at 6:10 am. I went to the bathroom, and wait, something was different outside. Did I just hear the sound of rain falling? I went back to my room and opened the sliding glass window, and found that I was right. It was raining pretty heavy. Usually every year towards the last days of winter, there comes one such rainy day which turns down the temperature one final notch. It's like winter's last stand against the clock of nature. So I was expecting such a day. Anyway, raining or not, I had to go the mosque. Off I went taking up my umbrella after a long time, into the winter rain. It was chilly outside, and as it was raining heavier than I expected, I was getting soaked despite the umbrella over my head. At the mosque the attendance was less the usual, not unexpectedly. After the namaz I had about half an hour to get ready for class.
When I left home at 7:15 am for the bus stand, it was still pretty dark around. I expected that after this rain the weather would definitely get much colder. It indeed felt so at the bus. But as soon as I reached the varsity, I found myself totally wrong. Instead of feeling colder than the recent days, I found myself getting rid of my jacket as I was feeling warmer. I guess this is due to the increase in humidity in the air. Well, this all proves that Allah makes changes in His domain whenever He wants, however He wants.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Custom Favicon !

Hey check out the blog's new custom favicon (the small icon on the left of the page title). I learned the trick of putting custom favicons on bloggger while developing our upcoming site AUSTronics (which is ready, waiting for 'inauguration'), so I thought why not try out one for my dear blog. The job's pretty easy as blogger allows you to edit the < head > section of the template. I designed the icon in Photoshop. Although it's too small to read the words "I Am Asif" written on it, it's difficult to make the design fully comprehensible in such a small area (32 X 32 px), but I still think it's neat. What do you think?

Friday, January 11, 2008

22 Gone.........

Yup, today marks my 22nd birthday. Now I'm 22 years 'old'. I'm emphasizing on that word, because I think 22 years is indeed old. Isn't it a fact that many don't get to live as long? Thanks to Allah for giving me this life.
Birthday isn't any different than other days to me, as I don't celebrate birthdays, not mine, not anyone else's (don't ask me why and start an argument). The only special thing I did is that I prayed 2 rakaat namaaz for myself.
I pray to Allah that He gives me a long righteous life, that He only gives me what is good for me, that He gives Barkat to everything I do, that He let's me stay together with my family all my life, that He makes Aakhirat my only goal. May Allah protect me from Evil, and from everything that He doesn't like. My heart is full of diseases, may Allah cure it. May Allah give me chance to spend more time on Allah's path. May Allah forgive me, may Allah forgive us all. Ameen.

Feast at Shourav's place

Yesterday me and some friends had lunch at Shourav's place. Actually I was responsible for this invitation. Back on Eid day Shourav said that they had bought an Australian cow for this Eid-ul Adha. I wondered if it tastes any different, and I told Shourav that he should invite us to have some beef. As a result, 10 January was fixed for the lunch. Interestingly, exactly 364 days ago on January 11 2007, we were here at a similar lunch. Anyway, we went to Shourav's home straight from varsity. They played a movie about an autistic boy, but more interesting to see than the movie was Farhan's reaction. I knew that Farhan was a guy who is very affectionate about children and he's a bold speaker against child abuse. So it was expected that Farhan could get emotional during this movie. I was right. During the whole movie he was almost speechless, and for some time he was literally crying. It was nice to see such emotion from him.
Now come to the fun part, the food. Shourav's mom, just like the last time, had prepared a great set of dishes for us. There was beef (obviously), chicken roast, prawn, vegetable, salad and a few more items. Honestly speaking, each of those items was really delicious, and yet again, I put a lot of food into my stomach. We stayed there for some some time after lunch, gossiping and giving one another some 'Pochani'. Most of the times the victim was Nobin (hehe). After Asr prayer me and Kanto took our leave and started for home.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's dinner & the days without rice !

I haven't been able to eat rice for the last three days, honestly. No, don't take this on the wrong note. I couldn't have rice because I had to eat some different meal. In the last 3 days I've had Biriani (thrice), burger and a whole lot of Italian food. Alhamdulillah, who can complain if Allah gives me such great Rizq! All of these meals are rich to the max level. As a result, my waist has notably grown wider. Damn!
Now let's talk about one of the most elaborate dinners in my life. It was in New Year's day. Milanku and Chaachi invited my brother and me to join them for the dinner. I knew it was gonna be at some place good. I was right. They took us to The Westin Hotel at Gulshan. We went straight up to the topmost floor to the Sprago Restaurant to have some Italian food. I chose this place instead of the buffet of the hotel, because, you know I'm crazy about Pizzas.
About the restaurant, it should have been better decorated. Being 23 stories up ( that's pretty high for our country ), it gives a stunning view of Dhaka from up above. But they couldn't use the view to their advantage. The place should have had windows as much as possible, instead it was mostly walled from all sides.
Anyway, the important part is the food. When I checked out the menu, I had absolutely no clue what to order. The menu was too much complex. We ordered a lot of stuff. Let's see, Pasta, Lasagna, Pizza, Chicken broast, lobster, salad and drinks, I don't know if I'm forgetting something. And believe it or not, other than the salad, I took every other item! Man I can't even believe myself that I had so much food. Especially the pizza and lasagna were really good. Other items were nothing extraordinary. I was just happy to have what I wanted, pizzas obviously. It must have been a tremendous torture upon my stomach to give it such a big task of devouring such a complex combination of food stuff. Oh wait, the onslaught wasn't over yet. After the dinner we went down to the lobby of the hotel to top it all up with ice cream! I guess I was way over the safety zone of my stomach, but thanks to Allah I didn't throw up. Now don't ask me about the price of the food we just had, it's just TOO much. Just one example, the second pizza that we ordered (which servers 2) cost 1200 taka alone. I forgot to say 1200 taka 'only'.
We got back home close to midnight, both me and my brother hardly being able to move. The fact about this dinner is that I'm confident that I ate the most. This new year's dinner must be among the top three of my most elaborate meals ever.
By the way, this is the very first post of 2k8, so wishing you all a belated Happy New Year!