Monday, August 8, 2016

The Auction


The Auction
 Dr. Mouhamed N. Tarazi

Forty eight I shouted when the clerk at the Sheriff office opened the bid on this condo. Forty eight is short for forty eight thousand dollars.

Friday I went to the Sheriff real estate auction to try to help my nephew buy this condo. It was appraised at $72,000 and the opening minimum bid was $48,000. My nephew and I decided early on not to go over $55,000.

Without seeing the inside of the property and just relying on peeking through the widows (if you can), you have to be careful and cover your bases when you buy a property at a Sheriff auction. You need to factor in unexpected problems (like a damaged air conditioning unit or dysfunctional water heater. Some owners, when they lose their property, they leave and take with them anything they can; refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, light fixtures; etc. Sometimes they will take even the copper pipes.

“Forty eight one ($48,100),” a man in the back of the packed room shouted.
“Forty eight one, do I have a higher bid” the clerk repeated.
“Forty eight two” I announced.

Every time a bid is made the clerk repeated it and asked for a higher bid.

“Forty eight three,” a man in the back barked. I couldn’t tell if it was the same man.
“Forty eight four,” I cried.
“Forty eight five,” a voice from the back.
“Forty eight six,” I insisted.
“Forty eight nine,” a man in the back shouted.
“Forty nine thousand,” I announced

The clerk got fed up with us going by one hundred increase every time we bid and sternly she directed us to go by $1,000 increase.

“Fifty (meaning fifty thousand),” he said.
“Fifty one (This was not $50,100 as it was understood in the first round, it was $51,000),” I decided.
“Fifty two,” was announced in the back.
I went up to fifty three thousand.
“Fifty four thousands,” the same voice announced.
I announced our upper limit: “Fifty five thousands.”
The man in the back went up to fifty six thousands. The clerk said, after asking for a higher bid: “Fifty six thousands going once, fifty six thousand going twice,” pause.

In a real estate auction or in any auction for that matter, your adrenaline goes high up and can prevent you from stopping at the right time and you will end up getting a bad deal.  Let me just add one more thousand. Thankfully my nephew was not with me and I controlled my desire to just go up a thousand dollars one more time.

“Sold, Fifty six thousands, please come forward,” the clerk nodded to the buyer in the back. A man, the buyer, and a representative of the bank, hurried at the same time to the clerks’ table to do the necessary paperwork.

I folded my papers and stood up to leave when I heard the clerk announcing the rebidding of the same condo. Did I really hear that? This does not happen that often. Apparently that buyer thought all along that he was bidding on a different property.

“Do I have an opening bid of forty eight thousand?” the clerk announced.
“Forty eight thousands.” I gladly said.
“I have an opening bid of forty eight thousand, do I have a higher bid?
Silence. I started to get excited.
“I have an opening bid of forty eight thousand, do I have a higher bid?
Silence. I was excited now.
“Forty eight thousand going once.”
Silence. More excited.
“Forty eight thousand going twice.”
Silence. Extremely excited. My heart beats went up to 120.
“Sold. Forty eight thousand. Please come forward.”

Had this confused buyer stopped at $54,000, we would’ve paid for this condo $55,000.  But we only paid $48,000. Clearly in those few minutes my nephew saved $7,000.  

Be mindful of almighty God and He will show you a way out of distress and He will provide for you in a manner beyond all expectation.




Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW)



Celebrating the Birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW)

Dr. Mouhamed N. Tarazi


S
ara and Abdullah have been married for a little more than four years. They have a son, Khaled, who turned two years old last week and they are expecting a girl any day now.

 Abdullah,  an engineer and Sara, a science teacher, moved from Syria to America several years ago. After the death of his father, he brought his mother to live with them.

Yesterday, Sara, with the help of grandma, (called TaiTai in Syria), prepared a nice dinner for the family; kubbeh, mutabal, humus, tabuleh, chicken and rice. Of course Sara did not forget the lentil soup. Abdullah used to say, “Kubbeh without lentil soup is like Rome without the Pope!”

Abdullah came home from work; they all sat around the dining table. Khaled sat in his high chair with a bib, embroidered with the phrase, “I love Taitai,”­­ fastened under his chin. Abdullah reached out and took a round kubbeh,  tasted it, and exclaimed, “Mom, Sara, Jazakumullahu khayran, this is a great kubbeh!”

 “Abdullah! I heard on the news this morning that today is the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. Could we spend some time talking about him?” Sara asked.

 Abdullah was very happy to celebrate this occasion by remembering this wonderful man Muhammad, the like of whom never walked on this earth.

“Oh yeah Sara! I did forget. Today is the 12th of Rabi al Awal (The third month of the Islamic calendar), the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. Let’s start by talking about some of his special attributes mentioned in the Holy Quran.”

“Almighty Allah called him a ‘Light’ and ‘Lamp Spreading Light,’ to guide people out of darkness:

There has come to you from Allah a New Light 

Oh Prophet! Truly We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of glad news, as a warner, as one who invites to Allah’s grace, by His leave, and as a lamp spreading
light.’ ”

Sara looked at Abdullah and said, “I remember a verse, where Allah asks his Messenger, ‘Have We not raised high your fame?’ Every time we say ‘La Ilaha Illallah’, we also say ‘Muhammadun Rasulullah.’” 

“Exactly! You see how Muhammad’s name is part of the shahada,” Abdullah said.

Taitai joined in, “I love what Allah said, addressing his Prophet,

Indeed you have the highest morals.’”

“Mom, it’s all about morals. The Prophet said it himself. He was sent but to complete the code of morals,” said Abdullah.

Sara admired how the Prophet treated children and mentioned that once he came to the mosque for the night prayer, carrying his grandson on his shoulders. Then he seated him close by and led the prayer. He spent an unusually long time prostrating during the prayer, which worried some of his followers. Others thought he was receiving a revelation. After the prayer, he explained to them that his grandson mounted on his back and he waited for him to get down. Taitai added, “He also used to carry his granddaughter Umaima while praying. When he prostrated he’d put her down and when he stood up he’d carry her.”

Abdullah said, “I find this story fascinating: one time the Prophet was in a big gathering.  To his right was a young boy and to his left were the great Abu Baker and Omar. The Prophet was offered a drink from a pitcher. He drank a little bit and asked the boy ‘Do you permit me to pass the drink to Abu Baker and Omar?’ The boy said ‘No way!’” (Muslims usually pass things to the right. That is why the Prophet wanted the permission of the boy to pass it to the left. The boy refused, he wanted the blessing of drinking right after the Prophet. Maybe he thought, by the time it comes around nothing would be left for him or maybe he wanted to receive a drink directly from the Prophet.)

Taitai reminded them of the story of the woman who used to clean the Prophet’s mosque. She was from people who were not considered important in Medina’s traditional clan society. One time he noticed she was not at the mosque. When he inquired about her, he was told that she had passed away. He asked where she was buried and gathered his companions and offered a funeral prayer for her. This shows how well he respected people, no matter their social status in the general community.

Sara added teasingly, “He was so nice to his wives. He never laid his hand on anyone of them (meaning, he never hit any of them).”

“Abdullah! Did you hear that?” Taitai asked.

“Mom! I would never ever hit Sara!” replied Abdullah.

Taitai and Sara laughed. They remembered how Abdullah had stood up to his best friend and scolded him when he shoved his wife in front of them.

Taitai then said, “I remember a hadith, I’d like to share with you. When Rasulullah recited what Abraham supplicated, ‘He who follows me is one of me and he who disobeys me (is going astray) - But You are indeed oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ And what Jesus prayed, ‘If you punish them, they are your servants, and if you forgive them, verily You, only You, are the All-Mighty, the All-wise.
He, Muhammad, understood that the two great messengers, Abraham and Jesus, were asking forgiveness even for those who chose not to follow them. He then raised his hands, cried and pleaded, “My nation, My nation.” Then Allah sent Angel Gabriel to comfort him and assure him that Allah would be pleased with him and with his nation.”

Abdullah said “Mom! That shows how much he loved us, how much he loved his ummah.” Then he added “Don’t forget that every prophet was given a special wish and every prophet used up his wish except Muhammad. He saved his wish as a shafa’a for his ummah on the Day of Judgment. It will be honored for everyone who dies without associating anything with Allah.”

 “Abdullah! Remind us of shafa’a,” Sara demanded.

Abdullah explained, “On the Day of Resurrection, all mankind will be gathered in one gigantic plain. The sun will get very close to them. They will be sweating, scared, and waiting for the grand trial. They will wish to know their fate and get it done with it quickly. We don’t know how long they will stay like that in a state of uncertainty. They will form a delegation to search for intercession. This delegation first goes to Adam, then Noah, then Abraham, then Moses, then Jesus. The delegation will plead for their intercession. Each one of the prophets, fearing to face Allah for his own reasons, will say, ‘Myself, myself, I’m worried about myself’, and will refer them to the others. Then finally they will go to see Muhammad. He will respond ‘I’m for it, I’m for it.’

Muhammad goes under the throne, prostrates, praises Allah and waits. Then he will be ordered, ‘Oh Muhammad!  Raise up your head. Ask! You will be given. And intercede! Your intercession will be accepted.’   

His intercession will help those, from his ummah, whose good deeds are equal to their bad deeds to enter Paradise. People ordered to go to Hell will be pardoned, by his intercession, before even entering Hell. Those who end up in Hell will be released to go to Paradise, as a result of his continued intercession.”

Sara then asked, “With all of what the Prophet did for us, and is willing to do for us in the Day of Judgment, how can we thank him?”

Abdullah thought about it for a few seconds and before he answered, Taitai started, “In fact he asked us to do only one thing for him; he said, when you hear the athan for prayer repeat after the caller, then at the end of the athan, he told us to pray for him. For every blessing we send upon the Prophet, we get in return ten blessings from Allah. What a bargain! Then he asked us to ask Allah to grant him ‘Al-Waseela’, a place in Paradise reserved for one person and he wishes it to be for him. He promised that he who asks for ‘Al-Waseela’ for him will earn his intercession.”

As they were finishing dinner the call for maghrib prayer came from the home computer and all in unison repeated after the caller. After it, they invoked blessings upon Muhammad. Then supplicated,

"Allahumma Rabba hathihid-Daawatit taammah, wassalatil Qa imah ati Muhammadan al waseelata wal fadeelah, wa ib'ath-hu maqaman mahmoodan allathee wa'ad-tah, innaka laa tukhliful-me'aad."
 (This translates to"Oh Allah, Owner of this perfect call and Owner of this prayer to be performed, grant Muhammad al waseelah (a place in Paradise) and al fadeelah (a rank above the rest of creation) and send him upon a raised platform which You have promised him. Verily, You never fail in Your promise.")
Taitai, Sara and Abdullah agreed that there was so much more to say about the Prophet. This was a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad.


[Peace and Blessing of Allah upon Prophets Muhammad, Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and all other prophets.]

















Monday, September 7, 2015

The Good, the Bald and the Ugly

The Good, the Bald and the Ugly
Dr. Mouhamed N. Tarazi
Based on a narration in Muslim & Bukhari

   Abas was a poor leper living by himself. He was ashamed of his looks and could not mingle with others in his village. He would have loved to get married but no women would marry him. He couldn’t get a job and was living off the charity offered to him by the village. One day an angel came to visit him in a form of a man.

   “Assalamu alaykum Brother Abas,” said the angel.

   “Waalykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu,” replied Abas.

   “How’re you doing?” asked the angel.

   “Just fine. Who’re you? What do you need?” Abas asked with a frown.”

   “What is the one thing you would like most, Abas?” The angel asked.

   “Don’t you see me? I’m just an ugly man. I wish I had normal heathy good looking skin like you, so I could get out and mix with the people of my village, get a job, get married and have children. The way I am everybody hates me,” angrily replied the leper. 

The angel caressed him and suddenly, by the power of God, his illness was cured, and he was given beautiful healthy skin. Abas, stunned, became extremely happy and he did not expect what would come next.

The angel then asked him:

   “What kind of animal do you like best?”

   “Camels,” he replied with a smile.

So the angel gave him a pregnant she-camel, and prayed for him: May Allah bless you through it.”

The angel then left.

   Next the angel visited a bald man named Sammy. Sammy was depressed with his baldness. He tried all known recipes to get some hair back on his head but nothing worked.  The angel asked Sammy

   “Why don’t you make a wish?”

   “I wish I had a nice looking hair.”

The angel touched Sammy’s head and told him to feel his head. He was given nice curly brown hair. Then the angel asked Sammy about his favorite animal. Sammy liked cows. The angel offered him a pregnant cow and prayed that Allah blessed him through it.

   Finally, the angel visited Kareem, a blind man.

   “Assalamu alaykum Brother Kareem,” greeted the angel.

   “Waalykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu,” welcomed Kareem.

   “How’re you doing today?” asked the angel.

   “Alhamdulillah!” replied Kareem with a smile.

Then the angel asked him what he would like the most in this world.

   “I wish that Allah would give me back my sight, so I can see and admire the beauty of the creations of God.”

The angel gently touched Kareem’s eyes and voilĂ , his sight came back to him.

Kareem stared weeping and kept on repeating Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah!

   “What property do you like best?” asked the angel.

   “Sheep.”

The angel gave him a pregnant sheep, prayed for him and departed.

   After a while the three pregnant animal gave birth to young ones, and they multiplied so much that soon Abas had a herd of camels filling a valley, Sammy had a herd of cows filling a valley, and Kareem had a flock of sheep filling a valley.

   The time for a trial had come. Disguised in the shape and look of the original miserable poor Abas the leper, the angel visited the new cured leper Abas. The angel-leper said:

   “I am a poor man, I lost everything while travelling.  In the Name of Him Who has given you such a nice color and beautiful skin, and so much property, I ask you to give me just one camel to help me reach my destination.”

   Abas repelled him, “I can’t afford that. I have a lot of obligations.”  

[Credit cards debts? House mortgage?  Cars payments? Private schools for children’s tuition. There are many reasons some people give to avoid donating.]

The angel said, “Wait a minute! I think I know you; were you not a leper people hated? Weren’t you a poor man and then Allah blessed you with all this property?”

   “Nonsense, this is not true. I inherited all of this from my powerful fore-fathers,” Abas replied.

The angel said,
    “If you are lying, May God return you as you were before.”  

And he left.

   Next the angel, disguised this time in the shape and appearance of a bald man, visited Sammy and said to him the same as he told Abas. Sammy, too, used the same excuses to avoid giving charity and helping the bald man.

The angel said,
“If you are telling a lie, may God return you bald as you were before.” 

   Disguised as blind man, the angel went to Kareem and said,

    “I am a poor man and a traveler, I lost all my means of livelihood during my journey. I have nobody to help me except God, and after Him, you yourself. I ask you in the Name of He Who has given you back your eye-sight to give me just one sheep. That would help me complete my journey and reach my destination.”

Kareem quickly replied, “Indeed, I was blind and God restored my eye-sight; and I was poor and God made me rich; so take anything you want from my property. For God’s sake, I will not stop you for taking anything you wish from my property.”

   “You are just a good man,” the angel replied, “keep your property with you. You have been tested and God is pleased with you.”

  

Be kind to others as Allah has been kind to you.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to Protect your Passwords


How to Protect your Passwords
A Useful Tip
Dr. Mouhamed N. Tarazi

 
Monday my wife called me. She interrupted my work and with a frustrated tone she informed me, “I cannot access our bank account online. Did you change the password?"

"Nope! I didn't," I calmly responded.

"I keep getting a message, 'We're sorry, but you used a User ID and/or password that doesn't match our records. Please try again.’ Or, click ‘Forgot your User ID and Password ‘to restore your access. ‘This is very frustrating. I don’t want to change the password."

I told her to hold on for a moment while I accessed my passwords’ file in my Dropbox. In fact I have a file called "Passwords" on my Dropbox. This may sound crazy. How can anyone with sound mind leave his valuable passwords on his computer, knowing that hackers are everywhere? Not only that, I’m also making their hacking job too easy by providing them with a file called “Passwords”.

“All right, what password are you using?” I inquired.

She Replied, “Asusual at 15, capital ‘a’, then, all small letters s,u,---“

As soon as she begun spelling the password, I started chuckling. She heard me and stopped. Then, embarrassingly exclaimed “Okay, okay. I remember!  I know now what I was doing wrong. Sorry! Forget it! I’m good! I got it. I know what to do now. Assalamu Alaykum” 

I have close to forty passwords on my computer and I’m not afraid to share the file with hackers. They won’t be able to do anything with it. Unless they can hack my own brain.

Here is simply how you can do it and protect your passwords. Chose one or two passwords that you like, don’t write them anywhere and just share them with your wife (recommended) if they are not a business related password. Assign a code word for each, like ‘asusual’ and ‘letmein’. Then make all your other passwords variations that include one of these two passwords, but use the code word in place of the password in your record of passwords.

Chose, for example, “Shoraba1” as password. It has a capital letter and a number as commonly required today.  Now only you and your wife know it. On your computer, in the file called “passwords,” you write the passwords of different websites, using “Asusual” instead of your true password, “Shoraba1” So if I access your passwords’ file I might see:

Checking Account: www.abcbank.com

User ID: johnsmith

Password: Asusual@123 (this means to you Shoraba1@123)

Yahoo: www.yahoo.com

User ID: johnsmith@yahoo.com

Password: MyAsusual$7 (this means to you MyShoraba1$7)

Medical Records: www.link.com

User ID: jsmith

Password: 12@Letmein (this means 12@ (whatever your second favorite secret password)

Of course all the added letters, as explained, are part of the required passwords. You only need to replace “Asusual” or “Letmein” with the memorized (not written anywhere) passwords.

You see, you can have more than one true password.

This technique can also be used for all sorts of codes (Security system at home, combination used to open your safe, etc...)

But please don’t use your own or any of your children birth dates. Don’t use the obvious common passwords like ‘Password’, 123456, 111122,112358 (Fibonacci), 4321 or your children’s names separate or conjointly or your telephone number or your social.

If you have a trick to make or remember passwords that might help me or others, I’d really like to hear it and share it around too.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Expect The Best From God!


Expect The Best From God!
Dr. Mouhamed N. Tarazi
 
The Prophet instructed us to make things easy and not to make them difficult, to cheer the people up by conveying glad tidings to them and not to repulse them.
He promised that he who dies associating nobody with Allah, will enter Paradise.
He conveyed to us, yet, a stronger hope. He promised that he who testifies sincerely that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, Allah would prohibit the fire of Hell for him.
In what follows, I will put before you more glad tidings to cheer you up. I will include two narrations. One is a conversation between Aisha (r.a.a) and the Prophet (s.a.a.w) and the other is about a ruling by Allah (s.w.t) on the Day of Judgment, in a case involving an aggressor and his victim.  
Aish’s Demand
Aisha (r.a.a) is sitting facing her beloved husband, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w). She notices that he is cheerful and in a very good mood. She seizes this golden moment and demands a favor from him.    
This is a smart move on the part of Aisha. Men, in general, are easier to deal with and more receptive to demands (particularly from the wives and children) when they are cheerful and happy.  
“Make dua’ for me! Oh Messenger of Allah.” Aisha asks the Prophet just to pray for her.
Is that all that you want Aisha?  
The prophet then supplicates:
“O Allah! Forgive Aisha’s sins, past and future.”
Wow! What an amazing response! Aisha feels so happy and starts to chuckle to the point where her head drops onto his lap.
 “Did you like my dua’ for you, Oh Aisha? He asks.
“Of course, what a wonderful dua’, oh Messenger of Allah,” she replies.
Then he looks at her and says:
 “By Allah, I repeat this dua’ for my umma (nation) in every salah (prayer).
Allahuakbar! He (s.a.a.w), in every prayer he performed (tens of thousands of times), asked Allah to forgive our sins, past and future. He, as Allah says, was forgiven his sins past and future, and he wanted this to apply to his followers as well.
The Mother of All Intercessions
 When Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w) read what Abraham (a.s) supplicated:
 “He who follows me is one of mine and he who disobeys me (is going astray) - But You are indeed oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”.
And what Jesus (a.s) prayed: “If you punish them, they are your servants, and if you forgive them, verily You, only You, are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise”
He, Muhammad, understood that the two great messengers, Abraham and Jesus, were asking forgiveness even for those who chose not to follow them. He then raised his hands, cried and pleaded,
 “My nation, My nation!”
Then Allah sent Angel Gabriel to comfort him and assure him that he would be pleased in regards to his ummah and would not be sorrowful. Let’s not forget that every prophet was given a special wish and every prophet used up his wish except Muhammad. He saved his wish as a shafa’a  (intercession) for his ummah on the Day of Judgment. It will be honored for everyone who dies without associating anything with Allah.
That day, his intercession will help those from his ummah, whose good deeds are equal to their bad deeds, to enter Paradise. People ordered to go to Hell will be pardoned, by his intercession, before even entering Hell. Those who end up in Hell will be released to go to Paradise, as a result of his continued intercession.
In fact, that day the door of intercession will be open. All prophets, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the rest and the angels, the righteous people, and martyrs will be called to intercede. Children will intercede for their parents and will refuse to enter Paradise without then. Parents will intercede for their children. Spouses will intercede for each other. Believers will intercede for their friends. Then the mother of all intersessions comes: Allah’s mercy, when He orders to take out of Hell all those who have faith in their hearts, equal to the weight of a barley grain!
A High Court Ruling
On the Day of Judgment, two men sit side by side before Allah (s.w.t), in a court of law. The wrongdoer and his victim.
“Oh Allah! He had wronged me in the worldly life and I want justice,” the victim starts, pointing at the other man.  
The wrongdoer may have stolen money from the victim, or may have slandered him, or may have beat him. And now is the time for restitution.
“Pay him back!” Allah orders the wrongdoer.
“I don’t have any more good deeds to give him.” The wrongdoer sadly replies. With no more good deeds he is doomed and headed to Hell he thinks.
Then Allah asks the victim what he would like to do since the wrongdoer is completely out of good deeds to give him.
“Okay! Let him bear some of my bad deeds!” the victim insists.
In the Hereafter this will be the way restitutions will take place. The wrongdoer will give his victims from his own good deeds and when he is out of them he, the wrongdoer, will receive from his victims bad deeds until justice is served.
Suddenly the victim raises his head and glances around and says, “Oh my Lord!  I see golden cities and golden portraits engulfed with pearls. To which prophet, truthful person, or martyr do they belong?”
“To he who could buy it and pay for it,” Allah responds.
“Oh my Lord! Who can afford the price?” The victim wonders.
“You can pay for it,” Allah adds.
“How come?” The victim now very surprised.
Allah says, “It’s yours if you forgive your brother (The wrongdoer)”
“Oh Allah! I forgave him,” the victim quickly says.
Then Allah announces the formidable verdict, addressing the victim:
“Hold your brother’s hand and take him with you to Paradise”
The Most Cheerful Verse
One short verse in the Quran contains three thrilling glad tidings. Each one of the three, alone, should cheer you up.
“Say, Oh My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah.”
Subhanaallah! Do not despair of the mercy of Allah! This is the first glad tiding.  Then Allah mentions the second glad tiding:
 “Indeed, Allah forgives all sins.”
Allah forgives all sins! What a great news. Lastly Allah seals the verse with the third glad tiding:
 “Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful." 
So look forward to your rendezvous with God in Paradise, Ishaallah. And remember to always expect the best from God until you meet Him.