Thursday, October 11, 2007

First Malaysian in Space...


From the BBC News

Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK

Landmark lift-off for space crew

A Russian spacecraft heading to the International Space Station (ISS) has blasted off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The Soyuz rocket propelled Malaysia's first astronaut into space alongside the first female astronaut to become commander of the space station.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor and American Peggy Whitson were accompanied by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.

Ms Whitson and Mr Malenchenko will remain on the ISS for six months, replacing two other astronauts. Mr Shukor will spend nine days on the space station before returning to Earth with the outgoing crew.

Malaysians proud

The Soyuz-FG rocket was launched on schedule at 1752 Moscow time (1322 GMT), topped with a spacecraft containing the three crew members. Reports said the rocket was adorned with a Malaysian flag as it lifted off.

The launch has been eagerly anticipated in Malaysia, where it has been hailed as a landmark for the Asian nation. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi joined 1,000 schoolchildren at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur to mark Malaysia's entry into space. They clapped and cheered as a giant TV screen showed scenes of Sheikh Muszaphar smiling inside the spacecraft minutes after the lift-off, the Associated Press reported.

Ramadan rules

Mr Shukor will be the first Muslim to fly in space during the holy month of Ramadan and will be there for the Eid festival, when he will treat his crewmates to a celebratory meal. For the rest of the time he will try and observe the dawn-to-dusk fasting rules of Ramadan.

Muslim clerics in Malaysia have prepared special guidelines for him on observing religious rules while on the ISS. He will use a wet towel rather than water to clean himself before praying, and is not obliged to kneel in zero gravity or face Mecca while praying. To avoid confusion about when to pray, Mr Shukor will follow the time at the launch site in Kazakhstan. The crew are expected to dock at the space station on Friday.

My comment:
Can you imagine, at the speed the space station travels, the ISS will orbit the Earth 16 times every 24 hours, that means Sheikh Muszaphar would have been obliged to pray more than 80 times a day? Also there is another issue, i.e. the direction for prayers, which must usually face the direction of Mecca – a difficult position to maintain in zero gravity.

Alhamdulellah, Malaysia's Department of Islamic Development has drafted a set of guidelines on how to perform religious rites in space. The guidelines allow the astronaut to only pray five times a day and that the times should follow the location of the spacecraft's launch. Also it
is not obliged to kneel in zero gravity or face Mecca while praying.

The guidelines can be obtained from this link:

Wallahu a'lam

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My convocation day...

USM 36th Convocation

15 August 2007 was my convocation day. I was awarded Master Degree in Chemistry. So much to say about this day. The feeling of joy - it was so so overwhelming. Let the pictures tell the story.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Streamyx downgrade - I learned my lesson..

RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT! - My Internet Bill for June is RM232.11

Two months ago I applied for downgrading my streamyx package from RM77@unlimited to RM49@60 hours. The reason I downgrade my streamyx is because I already moved to Kulim. And will only be in Taiping in the weekend – Saturday and Sunday. So I believe 60 hours internet usage a month is enough for me. Last week I received my internet bill. It should be a combination of a two months bill, so I thought the amount should be around RM98 or a bit more but will not exceed RM120. What I got was really surprising. 232.11 Ringgit. My bill is RM232.11 for last month. Is this my other event of Ripley's Believe It or Not? I think so. Regarding the bill, what had been printed is true but I'm hoping the amount is false.

Since the bill did not mention any detail about the package and internet usage, so I checked through the internet. There it is... - Streamyx Home Basic 384 Kb - RM20@10 hours. This is clearly a WRONG package. No wonder my bill shoots up so drastically. Well TMnet, thank you very much. Now I really feel like maglooba (up side down). Although frustrating, I didn't go hysteria. Because I know this is a test from Allah. Alhamdulellah.

Sudden Motivation
Besides I got a new motivation from Tariq Sabah, my Palestinian brother. He told me that he already subscribed to a home wireless internet (1.0 Mb – RM88@unlimited) for his rental house in KL. Contrast with me that I went downgrading. Should I go back to the streamyx unlimited? Yes, I think I should. The difference between the two plans is only RM28. When I was a student I used the RM77 ~unlimited streamyx plan. Now as a working guy I downgraded my streamyx plan to RM49 ~60 hours. My allocation for internet is RM100 a month. So what the hell am I doing? Besides there is no guarantee my internet usage will not exceed 60 hours.

Back to Streamyx Unlimited
So this week I changed my off day from Sunday to Friday because I need to be in Taiping on Friday (Telekom Malaysia will close on Saturday and Sunday in all states except Kedah and Kelantan). Today (Friday) I went to the customer service at TM Taiping (the place where I registered my streamyx). TM admitted their mistake and apologized to me for the miscalculated bill. They will soon issue a new bill. Then I told them I want to upgrade my streamyx plan back to the 512 Kb - RM77 ~unlimited. They said "with pleasure". DONE! Everything went so smoothly. Alhamdulellah.

I learned my lesson
I think I learned my lesson well this week. If we are not sure with our decision, don't rush into it. Discuss with sombody we trust, seek advise from him. Two heads are always better than one.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Am I the most royal DiGi customer?

Ripley's Believe It or Not! - Izat is the most loyal DiGi Customer

Am I the most loyal DiGi customer?

I think so.... I'll let you know why.
-- Change mobile service provider, from Celcom to Maxis or vise versa, is something common.
-- Change handphone to a new one, is something common also.
-- Change sim card, today this number, tomorrow another number, is very common too.

I did change my handphone a few times. The last was in November 2004. I'm still using Nokia 1100 until now (perhaps you guys can label me 'mobile conservative'... hehehe). But I never change my service provider, DiGi which I subscribed since 1999. I chose DiGi prepaid. In addition to that I never changed my number since the first day of my subscription. Almost eight years now. Ripley might not believe this. But it's true.

----0 1 6 - 4 5 6 $ $ $ $
-----I -l o v e -m y- n u m b e r

I think DiGi you should consider giving me an award, i.e. The most loyal DiGi customer of the planet.
The award must include RM50 monthly free airtime for three years.... hehehe.

I don't have any statistics or breakdown of mobile service subscribers in this country. As far as my friends are concern, three out of 20 are using DiGi. Not so many eh? Well my DiGi friends, I think we are unique. Yes we are. I know my DiGi friends, most of us are fantastic, romantic, bombastic, mr lova lova... hahaha just kidding. What is so special about DiGi? I'm not so sure but I like DiGi Birthday Bonus the most (because they offer 50% of the top up value). Also Family & Friends.

When I was a student I spent around RM30-40 a month for calls and sms. Now, I spend around RM60-80, perhaps more. But I'll try not to spend more than RM100 a month.

Question - Will I change my mobile number in the future?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Yes... Petra is a New World Wonder


The result has been announced last night. These are the new SEVEN Wonders of the World:

Chichén Itzá, Mexico*
Christ Redeemer, Brazil
The Great Wall, China*
Machu Picchu, Peru
Petra, Jordan*
The Roman Colloseum, Italy
The Taj Mahal, India

*Monuments which I voted

To all my Malaysian friends who voted for Petra, thank you very much. I have no more words to say. I'm just too happy.

To the people of Jordan... C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! !

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Arabic for beginner - My funny experience

Kol Hawa

It happened in middle of 2004 when an Arab friend taught me an interesting phrase, ‘kol hawa’ (كل هواء
), in which the direct English translation means ‘eat air’. If I translate it to Malay it will become ‘makan angin’, which means ‘sight seeing’. Nice meaning. He told me if I see any Arab friends (most of my Arab friends are Jordanian/Palestinian), just say ‘kol hawa’. He said it has a good meaning. Well that’s good. I got something new today. I believed the meaning was something like "Have a good air for breathing".

One day I went to the USM mosque for Maghrib prayer and it so happened that I met a group of Yemeni friends. As usual I have a chat with them. And before I left I said, "I got to go back to the hostel. See you guys. Ellaleqaa’. Kol hawaaaaa… Assalam ‘alaikum. ".

They looked shock like they just saw a ghost. They said, "Izat! Come back!"
"Did you say ‘kol hawa’ just now?"
"Yes, is there anything wrong?"

"Who taught you this word?" I started to smell something was not right about the phrase. So I decided not to tell them who because I don’t know what impact is going to be. I just told them I got it from a friend. Then they told me the actual meaning and advised me not to use the word again.

I never thought that the meaning of kol hawa is shut up (in a polite way). Oh my God! Which means I had told them this - "See you guys. Shut up! Salam to you".

Hahaha… funny, isn’t it? I think it's a good lesson for a beginner like me. Kol hawa... not bad at all... (Thanks to my teacher & you're probably wondering who he is.. hehehe)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I voted for Petra..


The ancient city of Petra is located between the Dead Sea and Aqaba in Jordan, lies about 250 km from the capital, Amman. I was informed that to reach the ancient city, visitors need to travel either on foot or by horse-back or camel-back (I think camel-back will be more interesting) through a 1.5 km narrow winding valley called Siq. I've seen many pictures of Petra. MashaAllah, it's really amazing. I should go there one day. According to the, Petra is open to public from 6 am to 6 pm and costs about 15 to 20 Jordanian Dinar per tour per person (for non-Jordanian). Hey that is about RM75-100, well that's too cheap for Bill Gates but pretty expensive for me. But this will not stop me from coming to this place. Petra.. here I come..! But before that let's cast our votes...

Why I choose PETRA...

I'm not Jordanian. But being a Malaysian doesn't mean that I'm not aware of such magnificent monuments constructed outside my country, particularly those historical and ancient ones. One thing about Petra is the history. Some archeologists believed that Petra has been inhabited from prehistoric times and became the capital of Nabatean Arabs, who carved tombs, temples and buildings out of solid rock. Petra, perhaps can be considered as a sister ancient city to Meda'in Saleh, which is located in the North part of Saudi Arabia (check this out - Very very historical too. As a Muslim I learned that the stonework of Petra could probably the sign of the people of Thamud, who inhabited the mountainous region between Hejaz and Palestine thousands of years ago during the era of Prophet Saleh. From here I learned also, no matter how smart the society is, if they don't obey Allah, they'll be destroyed.

My Four Wonders

If I were asked to name the world wonders, Petra will be one of them as well as Meda'in Saleh. So far these are my best four, i.e.
[1] The Great Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
[2] Petra (Jordan)
[3] Meda'in Saleh (Saudi Arabia)
[4] The Great Wall (China)

Meda'in Saleh is currently not in the list. I can understand that Saudi Government is always very strict about things especially with regards to Islamic rules and social codes. So keeping Meda'in Saleh a low profile perhaps better for them for social reasons.

the New Seven Wonders of The World will be announced during the official declaration ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday, July 7, 2007. I'm so excited and can't wait any longer! I hope Petra will be one of them. If you still don't cast your vote, please do so at

Friday, March 16, 2007

Is it so hard to respect and love each other?

Last two weeks I was having a very hard time dealing with an Arab friend. As usual my regular Arab friends and I will go for lunch together. It's all started when one of them suddenly said, "I hate Malay". I was shocked because that word suddenly came out of nowhere and it was publicly mentioned in front of me. I asked why he said that because I was very sure that he must have some problems dealing with some people particularly Malay people. Then he told me the story. It's quite a long story. He has problem with university administration, with security, with this and with that. Wow so many problems? Why only him having so many problems? He told probably because he's a 'Bad Boy', a nickname given by him himself.

He added, "You know we (Arabs) like to argue but Malay don't. Malays always say yes". But this is too general isn't it? I'm not defending my Malay blood. As far as my knowledge about my race is concern, they also like to argue by their own way. Surprisingly, all the other Arab friends kept quiet. Unable to disagree with him. Does this mean that they are a 'yes man'? Certainly not. Same like Malays, if they don't argue, it doesn't mean they agreed. Our cultures are different. Things don't always happen the way you are used to.

I couldn't recall everything he said but among others are:
"You may apply rules to your own people but you cannot apply those to us" and
"You can't do anything. The only thing you can do is to express your sorry on behalf of Malay. Just like the rest of others".

So pathetic isn't it? If I go to one's house, should I not respect the custom of the house? Can I say to the host that I would like to do things my own way in their house? I can understand how frustrated he is but throwing all those words to me will not solve his problem, rather than improve Arab-Malay relationship. If I (considered as one of the closest friends to the Arabs) feel bad about this, how about the rest of Malays that are far from them? There are a lot of Malays out there that withdraw their money each year from their pockets to help their Muslim brothers in the Middle East. Even some poor Malays do that. But what do they get in return? Hates and hatred. Sad isn't it? But this is just his opinion about Malays, I believe not all of them having the same views. May Allah forgive us and bless all of us.

One thing I believe – all Muslims are brothers regardless of his colour or race. I am myself a mixed race of Malay-Chinese descent. I hate those who are racists and Islam clearly prohibits racism.

We should NOT generalize unless for good thing. We should be careful with our words. We can't runaway from mistakes. There are always people making mistakes in each society and our societies are not exempted. Our responsibility as a Muslim is to remind each other to do good thing and to stay away from bad deeds. We have been divided enough. Don't let ourselves be more divided. Enough is enough!!

"And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allaah (i.e. this Qur’aan), and be not divided among yourselves"

Surah Al-'Imran [3:101]

Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu 'anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said:
"Do not be envious of one another; do not artificially inflate prices against one another; do not hate one another; do not shun one another; and do not undercut one another in business transactions; and be as fellow-brothers and servants of Allah.

Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. Piety is here - and he pointed to his chest three times. It is evil enough for a Muslim to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property and his honour."

[Recorded by Imam Muslim]

Allah made the believers as brothers so that they have mercy upon one another; so that they love one another; so that they help one another and support one another. This is how Muslims should be…

Wallahu a'lam

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Taste of Wasabi - Oh My God!!!

First of all, let me remind my Muslim brothers. Beware of Japanese food because a lot of them are non-halal. We don't want non-halal stuff to become part of our blood and flesh. They will darken our hearts. TESCO sushi in Malaysia however has been certified halal by Islamic Authority of Malaysia. I bought one Sushi set consists of Makizushi and Nigirizushi with different toppings. The seaweed taste delicious. However I don't like the Japanese 'sambal belacan', which they called it wasabi. Taste awful man... From far, it looks like green peppermint paste (Malay: sambal pudina). I just dipped my sushi on the wasabi paste and fed them into my mouth with my smiling face. Oooooooooooo.... I screamed like tarzan. It bites my tongue and I can feel the wasabi vapour irritates my nasal passage. Oh my God!! That's it! Awwal marra akhir marra (The first and the last).

Wasabi Chemistry
Wasabi is a member of cabbage family, Wasabia japonica. The flavour mainly comes from the chemical ingredient - methylthioheptyl isothiocyanate.
Chemical formula: CH3S(CH2)7NCS

It may also consist of other form of isothiocyanates. Is it poisonous? Don't worry because it is NOT isocyanate (isocyanate is highly toxic - I used in my Master's research). Furthermore isothiocyanates in wasabi are less than 0.5%. A few studies showed that it acts as microb inhibitor. Some claimed that it can neutralize poison in seafood. So think about it.

Want to Try Wasabi?

It is easy to condemn other people's dish. We simply don't like it because their food do not style the way we are used to and tastes different than our custom food. I do appreciate dishes and delicacy from other cultures as long as they are halal. Therefore I would say you should try it. But make it very thin. Me... I like to try it again.