Marriage – Muslim (Nikah)

A Muslim marriage or nikah is not a sacrament, but a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. These conditions are stipulated in a written contract. Violating any of the conditions stipulated in this contract forms legal grounds for a partner seeking divorce.
1 Giving free consent to the marriage personally or through a close relative like father (called Wali). A man and woman say in clear voice three times that they accept (name of the person and his/her father name is called) as their husband/wife.
2 The amount of Haq-e-Mahr (marriage money) is agreed upon, announced, and paid to the bride at the spot or paid in the future.
3 Two adult, free men witness the ceremony in Sunni.
4 The nikah is publicised/advertised widely.
Once these conditions are fulfilled, bride and bride groom are declared husband and wife.

A Muslim bride signing a nikah nama
Walima is performed after the nikah or marriage ceremony. It’s a marriage banquet given by groom’s family to celebrate the welcoming of bride in the family. It is recommended to be held as early as possible after nikah.

World response to swine flu crisis

France, which has a few hundred cases of infection and no deaths, says it has ordered 94m swine flu vaccine doses.
Germany, which has under 1,000 recorded cases of swine flu, has ordered 50m doses of the flu vaccine. It is braced for case numbers to surge as its well-travelled citizens return from their summer holidays around Europe and beyond. It is planning to implement a mass vaccination programme as part of an anti-swine flu drive in September – which will prioritise health and public workers, as well as pregnant women and the chronically ill.
Russia has recorded just nine confirmed cases. The government has warned of a “sharp” increase in the number of suspected cases, though it says all are among people who have travelled abroad, with no evidence so far of its transmission inside the country. Public Health Chief Gennady Onishchenko warned that infections could spike in the autumn as people return from holidays and said “I advise maximum vaccination” once a vaccine is available.
The first European country to confirm a case of the virus, Spain now has more than 1,300 cases and has recorded four deaths. It is planning to vaccinate 40% of the population – the 30% considered to be at special risk plus another 10%.
Britain is Europe’s worst-hit territory with more than 10,000 recorded cases – 65% of the total number of cases reported in Continental Europe. But the actual number is probably much higher: Britain’s health agency estimated there were 55,000 new cases in the second week of July. England is about to set up a National Pandemic Flu Service, which will provide phone and internet diagnoses. Hygiene guidance to every household, and antiviral drugs are being offered to those who have contracted swine flu. Britain wants to start a mass vaccination campaign in August, but has few domestic production facilities of its own so is depending on sourcing large enough quantities of the vaccine from overseas. The UK was criticised by the WHO for suggesting it could begin vaccinating high-risk patients before clinical trials were complete.


Canada has recorded more than 10,000 cases and dozens of deaths. But it says it is confident that everyone who needs a dose of the flu vaccine will get at least one shot before Christmas, thanks to its domestic production facilities and a pre-existing contract obligating pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to prioritise Canada’s needs in the event of a pandemic. New infections seem to be declining, but there remain areas of great need – for example, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that in Manitoba province, swine flu prevalence is 20 times the provincial average. Remote communities will be among the priority groups to receive the first immunisations, say health officials.
The virus originated in Mexico – which has had more than 13,500 cases and 125 deaths – but now appears to be subsiding there. At the height of the crisis, which is thought to have cost the economy billions of dollars, restaurants, cafes, schools, businesses and public institutions were shut down in a dramatic move to curb the crisis. President Felipe Calderon assumed new powers to isolate infected people.
The US has experienced the greatest number of reported cases, at 40,000, and the greatest number of deaths, at 263, and the government has declared a public health emergency. Officials believe there may actually have been more than a million cases, but because they have been mild most have gone unreported. There are now signs, they say, that overall influenza activity is abating. There is currently a debate over which populations should be targeted with the first flu vaccines, which the government hopes will be available in about October, amid fears there will not be enough for a mass vaccination programme. Nearly $2bn of emergency funds will go towards purchasing vaccine components as well as helping plan for immunisation campaigns.
Argentina is the country with the second-highest number of swine flu fatalities, after the US, with 165 deaths and more than 3,000 cases. It was criticised for failing to respond quickly enough when the flu outbreak began – leading some to accuse it of being reluctant to impose tough measures in the run-up to mid-term elections. Schools, universities, cinemas, theatres and gymnasiums have been closed, and pregnant women and children urged to stay indoors. Pregnant women have been told they can take two weeks off work to avoid contracting the virus.
The Catholic Church has urged worshippers to sit far apart, to avoid handshakes and to take the communion wafer in their hands rather than directly on the tongue. Doctors urged people not to greet each other with a kiss and not to share mate, a herbal drink traditionally consumed from a straw and passed between friends.
Chile has seen more than 10,000 cases, but with 40 deaths some are comparing its response to that of Argentina, whose outbreak began at roughly the same time, but which has suffered more than three times the number of deaths. Before it had any confirmed cases Chilean authorities had set up sanitary barriers at airports and preemptively administered tens of thousands of antiviral treatments. In Chile’s heavily privatised health system, private hospitals were offered government resources in exchange for prioritising swine flu cases. The rate of infection is now thought to be declining.
The outbreak is said to be putting the health system under strain in Australia, which has seen more than 14,000 cases of swine flu, and close to 40 deaths. Pregnant women and indigenous people are said to be particularly vulnerable. In some hospitals elective surgery has been cancelled to reserve beds for swine flu sufferers and new cardiac bypass machines have been brought in to cope with the surge of patients in intensive care. A mass vaccination scheme is planned as soon as a vaccine is available.
China has recorded just a few thousand cases of the virus, and no deaths – low numbers in a population of more than 1.3 billion. It is employing strict controls to contain swine flu – trying to prevent infected people from getting into China, and quarantining those already there.
It says these tough policies are needed because of its high population and low hygiene standards in the countryside.
Thermal scanners are being used to detect people with high temperatures at airports in one of the region’s worst-hit countries, with around 4,000 cases and at least 24 deaths. A vaccine plant has hurriedly been opened south of Bangkok to increase the country’s domestic production capability once a vaccine is found.
Egypt, which has about 120 cases, with one related death, controversially culled several hundred thousand pigs in May, in spite of advice from global health authorities that this was unnecessary.
Egypt’s top cleric or mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, said he would not issue a decree barring Egyptians from making the pilgrimage, but health officials said all returning pilgrims would be quarantined.
Israel has only recorded about 1,000 cases, but has warned that the virus could hit a quarter of its population within months. In some cases it has sent sufferers home instead of isolating them in hospital.
Only 265 confirmed cases in the entire country of more than a billion people, but there is still screening and medical checks at all international airports and rail stations. Schools with infected pupils have been shut – and confirmed cases are being treated in hospital with tamiflu, regardless of how mild their symptoms may be.
See more information on Swine flu.

Homo sapiens stealing Lion’s food

Lion’s of Cameroon’s National Park are having their kills stolen from under their noses by hungry villagers. Incident of such kleptoparasitism, the stealing of food from another usually occurs between top predators such as lions, hyena and cheetah. But now humans are increasingly getting into this act. This may have a serious impact on lion’s population which is already under serious stress by human encroachment. Researchers says, people chase lions away from fresh kills with stick or fire, they fear that the stealing of lion’s food may have detrimental impact on big cats. In Waza National Park Lion’s are killed by livestock owners and poachers, researchers fear that lion’s in the park are on the verge of going extinct.

Herbal plant – Aloe Vera (Herbs)

Aloe Vera – One of the important herbs provided by nature

Aloe vera is one of the most useful herbs which is helpful in various conditions.

History of Aloe Vera

The generations of past mention the healing methods of Aloe vera plants being handed down through the centuries by word of mouth.  We find that the use of Aloe vera appears throughout history with many testimonials of its medicinal values.  The earliest record of Aloe vera use comes from the Egyptians.  There are records of the Egyptians drawing pictures of Aloe vera plants on the walls of the temples. Many cultures such as the Egyptians would have even elevated the plant to a ‘god-like’ status. The healing properties of the Aloe vera were utilized for centuries earning the name “Plant of Immortality”.
Aloe vera - one of important herbs
Aloe vera – one of important herbs
Aloe vera grows well under the sun with well drained dry soil. The sap from aloe vera is extremely useful to speed up the healing and reducing the risk of infections for :
– wounds
– cuts
– burns
– eczema
– reducing inflammation
– Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera is also taken internally in the treatment of :
– chronic constipation
– poor appetite
– digestive problems
Aloe vera is used in natural and processed form both. In Africa today, people still pack whole Aloe leaves around their wounds, and in South America, mothers coat the arms and legs of children to keep biting insects away. In India, aloe vera juice is sold by various manufacturers targeting a large user group.

Legends around Aloe Vera – one of the useful herbs

There are many legends about Aloe. It is said that Aristotle advised Alexander the Great to conquer the Island of Socotra to secure its Aloe harvest for his troops medical needs. Another legend tells us Queen Cleopatra used Aloe to keep her skin soft and beautiful. We don’t know if the story is true, of course, but recent scientific findings confirm this.

Swine flu spreads to 160 countries

The swine flu virus has reached 160 countries and could infect two billion people within the next two years, the World Health Organization has said. A senior WHO official, Keiji Fukuda, said the virus was still in its early stages and would continue to spread for some time.Mr Fukuda said work on a vaccine was intensifying but safety could not be compromised by rushing the process.
The virus is thought to have killed almost 800 people in recent months. Mr Fukuda, the WHO’s Assistant Director General for Health Security, said the agency had been reporting only laboratory-confirmed cases, but that this was always going to be “only a subset of the total number of cases”. “Even if we have hundreds of thousands of cases or a few millions of cases, we’re relatively early in the pandemic,” he told the Associated Press news agency.
“One of the things that is relatively clear is that we will continue to see spread of the virus; even though we are now three to four months into the pandemic, this is still pretty early into the overall period,” he said.
Mr Fukuda said the WHO estimates two billion people, one third of the global population, could eventually be infected. He said the figure was a reasonable prediction, based on analysis of previous pandemics, but that it was “really impossible to predict what the future will hold”.
World response to swine flu crisis
Mr Fukuda said officials and drug manufacturers were investigating how to speed up the process of developing a vaccine against the H1N1 swine flu strain. But he said there could be no doubt over the safety and efficacy of the drug before it was publicly distributed.
“There is always a balance in this sort of situation. You of course want to get out vaccine and as much vaccine as possible, as quickly as possible. On the other hand there are certain things which cannot be compromised,” he said.
“There are certain areas where you can make economies, perhaps, but certain areas where you simply do not try to make any economies.” The WHO says that in most affected countries, the majority of cases appear to be occurring in young people, around the ages of 12 to 17, although some reports suggest it is mainly older people who have required hospital treatment.

Onion rings

onion- 2 large.
all purpose flour – 75 gms.
corn starch – 2 tb. sp.
milk – 120ml.
egg – 1 beaten.
baking powder -1/2 tsp.
sugar – 1/2 tsp.
salt and paparika to taste.
oil to fry.
Process :
– Peel and cut onion into circular slices of about 1 cm thick then separate the rings.
– Mix all the dry ingredients, flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt, sugar, paprika, stir them together.
-Take egg and milk then whisk them, then pour this mixture on the dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly to get a lump free batter.
– Now heat oil to fry the rings, but oil should not be too hot. To check that the oil is hot enough to fry, carefully drop a battered onion into the hot oil. The oil should fry it lightly and take time to brown it. Therefore, the onion will be cooked through and the batter will be super crispy. Now gently dip some of the onions into the batter and coat well. Then place them into the hot oil using a fork.
Let them cook in small batches, so they won’t stick together. When they are fried on one side, turn them over to fry and brown on the other side. The process takes about 3 minutes.
Once they are done place them on kitchen towel to drain, you can season it with chat masala and serve immediately.