Thursday, 25 October 2018

Supergirl Season 4 (4.1 American Alien)

4.1 - American Alien

There are two main issues I had with this first episode of Supergirl:

Firstly, that she
[spoil]seems to be oblivious to the burgeoning animosity towards aliens[/spoil]

Although it is somewhat understandable (hope etc), it does imply that she has been ignoring things going on around her, or has been dismissive of them.  One of the things she seemed to ignore was that [spoil]they took both spikes[/spoil].

The second was that
[spoil]she was slower than a couple of motorcycles[/spoil]

Unlike the first issue, I have no excuses for this one.

It was good to see Lillian Luthor again, and I grinned at the reveal of Otis and Mercy (like I've said elsewhere, I don't check on previews etc, so I rarely know about these things ahead of viewing).

Otis was certainly more capable than the version of the character made famous by Ned Beatty in Superman but there was still the recognisable clumsy and slightly goofy element to him.  The actor playing him also reminded me of The Cowboy from Innerspace.

Separately: Winn was never J'onn's PA, nor was he ever Alex's, yet, for some reason, Alex seems to treat Brainy as if he is her PA.  As Director, Alex would almost certainly have an assistant for the admin side of things.  It may be that J'onn was someone who kept things closer to his chest and preferred to handle the paperwork/arrangements himself, but it's highly unlikely.  It just doesn't fit with the idea of a government agency, regardless of how secretive it is.

As for the reveal, leading in to the season's initial arc, I think we knew it was only a matter of time before the secret that [spoil]President Marsdin (played by Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)) is an alien[/spoil] would be uncovered, after we saw a flash of the truth last season.

As with previous seasons, there is a lot within the show that reflects what is currently going on the world, especially the US, and, while many don't like the approach, I think it's a good way of keeping things different to a number of other superhero-shows.

On the box

So now that the new seasons of the shows have started, I'm going to try to layer this into the blog.  Hopefully, this will mean more posts throughout the week, alongside the ones for comics etc.

Bear in mind - as with comics - I tend to avoid previews as much as I can, so there will likely be instances of surprise on my part which some readers might have a "well, d'uh, they revealed that in an article on such-and-such-a-website".  I also don't watch the 'next time on' sections that show up at the ends of episodes.  As a result of this, one such surprise, for me, was the reveal of a new actor over on The Flash.  I was, literally, on the sofa wondering, "Is that?" and then I checked on a popular online database and found that it was.

So, as a heads-up, the main shows I'll be posting about are:
The Flash
Legends of Tomorrow

I'm really behind on Arrow (I only saw the first few episodes of the last season) but will be watching the Elseworlds crossover episode, and will try to catch up at some point.

I've been meaning to check out Gifted but haven't gotten round to it.

Titans isn't available in the UK yet.

There are a few other shows I watch here and there, but they're usually when time allows rather than something more regular/consistent like the ones above.

Also, Halloween is coming up so there may be some horror reviews, if I get time and depending on what we get around to watching.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know J

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Once more into the breach

(Full disclosure: this post has been sitting in my drafts for three months.  It's a bit of a jumble and I'm going to leave it that way - hopefully, I'll be posting more coherently going forward.)

With Bendis on board, it's time to stop procrastinating.  When I started this blog, I honestly thought that, at the very least, I would do a weekly (or thereabouts) round-up on recent comics.  I'm mainly a DC reader, but I do check out other books here and there when time and enjoyment allows - Invincible, for example, was a must-read whenever new issues came out.

But I didn't do it.

I kept thinking 'no one is going to read this'.  'No one cares.'

I used to be a regular on the old DC Boards, both before The Great Crisis  and The Final Entropy that forced us to seek refuge in other venues across the interwebs - DCU, CBR etc - and I think I have a reasonably good standing in the sites that I do use, but time and work and life have lessened my availability in sharing my thoughts with other readers on those sites.

It's the way things end up being, right?

And the things I did write about - the Man of Steel movie, for example - I may have gotten a little carried away with.  I'll try to temper that.

So now I'm going to try to make more of an effort on this blogging thing - at the very least on the comics-side of it, especially with Superman.  It's going to be an escape of sorts, I think.

Some reading this post may have come here through my Harry Potter fan fiction - What if the Dursleys had been nice - and I think tying these posts to my writing is an important thing for me to do, going forward.

So, yeah, time to stop procrastinating...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

British Values and Muslim Values

Born and raised in Britain I do think (believe) that, overall, I can quite comfortably (and rightly) call myself a ‘British Muslim’.  Now, there are those who would want me to remove that second descriptor, and there are others who would prefer it to be placed before the first one, but it is what I am: A British Muslim.

Born here, raised here, and able to practice my faith here.


As for my values, I’ve always seen the two (British and Muslim) to be so alike that they’re quite indistinguishable.  Maybe my view of traditional British Values are ‘old school’ - I grew up in the 80s and 90s and a number of my teachers (God bless them all) grew up in the 50s and 60s, so perhaps these aspects have had an effect on me overall?

(Traditional) Muslim Values
(Traditional) British Values
(Current British Values?)
Honour Your Mother and Father
Honour Your Mother and Father
Honour Your Mother and Father (this is definitely still a part of being British, despite how individually and separately we live our from our parents)
Be good to your neighbours
Be good to your neighbours
Don’t trust your neighbours…but try to be good ones, ideally
Help those in need
Help those in need
Help those in need (but help yourself first and if you have a bit of time then maybe help others)
Freedom of religion (I know, this one’s a shocker to Muslims and non-Muslims ;) )
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Obey the laws of the land you are living in [provided they do not conflict with Islamic law (so, for example, in the unlikely event that a law was passed that everyone had to eat pork twice a week, Muslims (vegans, vegetarians etc) would not obey it)]
Obey the laws of the land, but if they look to become oppressive then step forward and fight for what’s right
(It’s a long process, but it’s got to be done)
Obey them, but if you can get away with not doing so then good for you
One (overall) law for all, but the laws of a person’s religion will take precedent in certain matters (marriage, inheritance, etc)
One (overall) law for all
If you’re rich and/or famous then you can get away with certain things
(If you’re an MP etc then you might be able to get away with certain other things)
Education is a basic and fundamental right
Education is a basic and fundamental right
Education is a right - if you can afford it, and even then we might dumb things down a bit (a lot)
Work hard
Work hard
If you can figure out a way to not work then good on you!
Be of benefit to those around you
Be of benefit to those around you
Grab whatever you can, and sod other people
Instil discipline in your children
Instil discipline in your children
Let them run free, you’re not the boss of them
Your home is your castle
Your home is your castle
Your home could be mine if you’re not around and I want in (okay, not really, but it sometimes seems like it’s going this way…)

Some of what I’ve listed in ‘current’ are likely to be dismissed by many people - the ‘help those in need’ one, for example (we Brits are known for opening our hands towards worthy causes, but I think there are people out there who will agree that it’s become less of a ‘let’s pull together as a community and society’ and more of a ‘give some money and hopefully the problem will go away’).  There is something of a change in values, but the core ones (the ones in that middle column) are still there and still strong, Alhumdulillah, despite areas of the media putting more emphasis on the 'bad'.

Ibn Taymiyyah gave a ruling a long time ago - one which is known more through its mis-transmission rather than its actual ruling.  The actual ruling, with regards to Muslims living in a non-Muslim state (nation) is that:

'The Muslims living therein should be treated according to their rights as Muslims, while the non-Muslims living there outside of the authority of Islamic Law should be treated according to their rights.'

Over the years, the focus of certain groups has been on the first clause - the rights of Muslims.  Alhumdulillah, despite some people's claims to the contrary, this country I have been blessed to have been born and raised in, does allow Muslims to be treated according to our rights as Muslims.  The second clause, though, seems to one which these groups tend to dismiss/disregard/ignore.

Ibn Taymiyyah's ruling was one that promoted balance and good and peaceful living between Muslims and non-Muslims.  It is something that fits in well with British society - a society which has values that mirror and complement Muslim values - and if it is one which Muslims collectively embrace then our relationship with each other and everyone around us will be all the better for it, Insha'Allah.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Halal - just what the heck is it?

For weeks (years, really, it's a cyclical thing) there's been talk, misrepresentation, misunderstanding, confusion, accusation, and so on, about what 'Halal' is.  There are details on numerous Islamic websites by numerous scholars, but they're either unknown (most likely) or ignored (I don't think this is a wilful thing for the most part, as the quest for answers is, for most people, a genuine one).

As always, the likelihood of something I post making a difference or bringing understanding to someone is minuscule, but I'm going to give it a shot - can't hurt, right?

So what is 'Halal' and why has it been kicking up a storm?

Basically it means 'permitted' or 'allowed' or 'pure' - depending on the context in which it is used (I'll try to detail this more fully as I go on, but if a non-Muslim is reading this (I hope there are a few who are!) then one thing you need to bear in mind is that Islam is 'a way of life', and there are rules, guidance, and suggestion for every aspect.)

The opposite of 'Halal' is 'Haram' - things that are 'not permitted', 'not allowed', 'impure'.

Let's start on the food side of things.

Halal isn't about slaughter - that is Zabihah (the word literally means 'slaughtered') - and animals such as sheep and goats are halal for a Muslim to raise and handle, whereas a pig is not.  So before it is slaughtered a chicken, lamb, goat, cow etc is halal - it is a pure animal (we'll ignore the whole 'feeding it things that are contrary to what it should be eating' side of things).  Regardless of how a pig is slaughtered it can never be considered halal for a Muslim to eat (the extreme circumstance of there being literally nothing else to eat, is just that: extreme.  It's unlikely to happen.  The other example of being force-fed does not place responsibility on the one being force-fed, so doesn't count, either).

So, again, Halal isn't about the method of slaughter.  The method used, however, determines whether the slaughtered animal/poultry can still be considered halal.

Snapping a chicken's neck is not permitted.

Suffocating a chicken is not permitted (but it's done in some poultry farms in the UK (anyone remember Jamie Oliver's piece on this a few years ago?) and has been approved by the FDA in the US).

Electrocuting a chicken to death is not permitted (but, again, is done (usually inadvertently) in some poultry farms in the UK.

Suffocating an animal to death is not permitted (and it's not legal in the UK (yet), either (although that's changing/changed with regards to poultry)).

Electrocuting an animal to death is not permitted (and it's not legal, either, but it is known to happen).

Shooting an animal with a bolt is not permitted (but is legal)

Shooting an animal in the head with a gun is not permitted (but is legal)

The above are the main ways an animal is prepared for slaughter: either rendered unconscious with gas (CO2 or an inert gas), electrocuted unconscious, or shot in the head (and either rendered unconscious or killed).

In the UK the norm in all slaughter (other than Jewish/Kosher and around 10-15% of Halal slaughter) is to stun the animal unconscious and then proceeding with the slaughter. 

Here's where one of the complaints kicks in: 'we don't want non-stunned animals for our meat'.  You have more chance of there being horse meat in your mince than you have of having a non-stunned animal's meat in your mince.  Why?  Because of the odds of you eating Kosher or non-stunned Halal meat is pretty much zero unless you're frequenting certain places (although, I understand that certain parts of the carcass from Kosher slaughter is often either passed off as Halal or sold off to the regular chains, so if you do end up (inadvertently) eating meat of a non-stunned animal, it's likely from a Kosher source rather a Halal one).  Pizza Express, KFC, GBK etc are not one of those places.  In each of those places the chicken you would be eating would have been stunned and then slaughtered.

The other complaint is that of 'I don't want to be eating something that's been blessed for something I don't believe in'.  Okay (ignoring the fact you don't believe it, so it shouldn't really harm you), for Christians one of the things you need to keep in mind is that Paul (in his interpretation of Jesus' (as) words) made it clear that it didn't matter what you ate because what goes in isn't what counts, it's what comes out of your mouth you need to pay attention to.

(For Muslims, we have a 'you are what you eat' thing - eat or drink impure things and they will become part of your body and so render you impure)

The third issue is: 'we didn't know and it's not right that we didn't know'.  Here I totally agree with you, but one thing you need to bear in mind is that most of the Muslims in the UK didn't know, either.  Think about it: if Muslims knew (and believed) that the (regular) lamb being sold in Tescos was halal would they bother going to their local halal butcher?

Which foods are Halal and Haram (in the UK)?

Baked Beans are Halal - the delicious tomato sauce, the whole suitable for vegetarians thing...delightfully halal

Baked Beans and Sausage are Haram

Cucumbers are Halal

So are tomatoes, peas, kidney beans, squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, onions - all Halal

Battered cod is Halal

Beer battered cod, though, isn't :(

Fries, chips, onion rings (fried in veggie oil etc) are all Halal

Fries, chips, onion rings fried in animal fats are not - and they're not suitable for vegetarians, either

Ketchup is Halal

Cheese made without using enzymes from animals are Halal (and suitable for vegetarians)

Cheese made with using enzymes from animals are Haram (and not suitable for vegetarians)

Veggie quiches are Halal

Quiche Lorraine is not (and it's not suitable for vegetarians, either)

Walkers' Cheese and Onion Crisps are suitable for vegetarians (and Halal)

Pringles Original, Sour Cream etc are either vegan or vegetarian (and Halal)

Vinegar is Halal

Clean water is Halal.

All those things listed above as Halal were not deliberately made Halal by their manufacturers as some weird way of getting one up on non-Muslims and drawing in Muslims.  They're just 'halal' by their very nature.  It's not a conspiracy against non-Muslims.

Moving on from the food side, there are other aspects:

Leather - Muslims (and Jews, and Jains (who won't wear any leather derived from any animal)) won't wear leather made from pigskin.  (as an aside, apparently a lot of leather-bound Bibles are bound in pigskin leather, but I haven't researched this, hence the 'apparently').  The method of slaughter 'doesn't matter' as the tanning process is considered to change the nature of the skin and render what was impure (if slaughtered in a way not permitted) into something pure.

Other things that are Halal and Haram

Holding your wife's hand: Halal
Holding someone else's wife's hand: Haram (exception, of course, where you're helping them up etc)

Buying, drinking, selling alcohol: Haram

Anyway, I'll leave it there, but I hope this has been of some help to some people.  Apologies for some of the rambling parts.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Childhood Inspirations

I haven’t updated this blog-thing in a long time – kept letting things get in the way, really – but I figured I should try to do something now and then, so here’s the first of (Insha’Allah) a series of ‘childhood inspirations’: things that happened to me when I was a child, and that have inspired or influenced me positively in my life.  For the most part, they were random acts of kindness – so they will probably come across as ‘same as, same as’...but they were important (for me, and maybe they will trigger a memory of something similar in whoever reads this).

The Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles hardcover annual
I used to go to my local newsagents quite often – once I was allowed to cross the road by myself and walk the two blocks – in order to buy sweets and a Superman (or Action, or Adventures of) comic.  One day, off I rode on my Street Wolf bicycle to the store and, after resting it against the window of the shop, I went in to get some sweets for my sibs and a comic for myself.  I scanned the lower shelves quickly and something red with flashes of green caught my eye:

I gasped and picked it up and flicked through it and...saw the price and put it back, reluctantly.  It was too expensive, and it would take me weeks to put the money together for it from my pocket money.  I picked up the new Superman comic and the sweets my sibs had asked for and waited in line to pay.  Of course, I kept looking back at the shelves and that bit of red poking out...

...and it was the only copy there...

The shop owners knew me well – that’s the thing with local stores: somehow a relationship forms without even realising it – and they could see I wasn’t my usual cheery self (I had a new comic book, I was always cheery when I had a new comic book), and they asked me what was wrong.  So I told them the situation (thankfully there was no one in line behind me) and they suggested that, if I really wanted it, then they could put it aside for me and I could pay for it in instalments.

I was thrilled at the suggestion and readily agreed.  I had done the maths and figured it would take eight weeks to pay it off, and they were okay with that.

The following week I made my first instalment of 50p – seriously, it was a big deal for me back then, okay?  As I made to leave the store with the goodies for my sibs (it was ‘skip week’ so no new Superman books) someone called out to me.  I turned and saw it was one of my neighbours – our gardens backed on to each other (well, his was across to the left of ours, but I ‘knew’ who he was).  He asked me about the annual and why I hadn’t taken it with me – he had seen the shop owner write my instalment payment in pencil on the inside back cover of the book (no hissing, I wasn’t ‘collecting’ back then).

‘You know what?  Eid’s coming up, so how about I buy it for you as an Eid present?’

I gaped at him, and then frowned.  Why would he buy me a present?  Sure, I ‘knew’ who he was but I didn’t know him-know him.  Why would he do this?  Yup, alarm bells were going off and I began to back away.

‘Uncle’ (the shop owner (most adults were ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’ back then)) approached us and asked me if everything was okay, and my neighbour then explained his proposal.  Of course ‘Uncle’ knew him better than I did, but he even asked him if it was ‘proper’ and ‘what would the boy’s parents say?’

‘It would make the boy happy.  There’s no harm in that, right?’

Sure, it would make me happy, but ‘Uncle’ was right: what would Mum and Dad say?  They probably would have freaked – as much as he was a neighbour he was still pretty much a stranger...

...but I so wanted the annual...

Yup, you guessed it: I relented and ‘let’ him buy it for me...

...and I ran home, clutching it, excited, in my hands...

‘Dad!  Look!  The uncle who lives opposite us bought me this!’

‘Who?’  Dad was frowning, and him frowning wasn’t a good thing.  He held out his hand and I handed him the annual.  I knew I should have gone with my instinct back at the shop.  ‘Who bought you this?’

‘The uncle who lives opposite us.  The one with the green windows,’ I said, pointing towards the garden.

Dad’s frown deepened, and then he looked at the open front door and said: ‘Where’s your bike.’

I’m telling you honestly: if my heart wasn’t so attached to me it would have rushed out of my chest, dashed back to my bike, and then ridden it home and said ‘tada, its’ here!’.  Of course, my heart couldn’t do that.

‘I...left it...’


‘...outside the newsagents...’

‘Let’s go.’

Dad didn’t run, but he wasn’t walking slowly, either.  As I tried to keep pace with him without running, I explained how ‘the uncle who lives opposite us’ had said it was for Eid and it was a present.

Then Dad held my hand: ‘and you promise me he didn’t touch you or anything like that?’

He hadn’t.  Other than talking to me, all he had done was buy the book and hand it to me.

Then, walking towards us, was ‘the uncle who lives opposite us’.  He waved at Dad and I, and Dad held up the book.

(note, their conversation is an English translation)
‘He can’t accept this from you.  I’m sorry.’

‘Brother, please.  There was nothing meant by it.  Your son likes to read.  We all see him sitting by his window reading.’


‘My parents, my wife.  We all do.’

‘This is too much.  I’m sorry.  He can’t accept this.’

‘Just treat it as an Eid present.’

For a few minutes they had this back and forth but, eventually, Dad relented and ‘the uncle who lives opposite us’ promised that if he ever wanted to buy me or my sibs anything then he would ask Dad first.

Hmm...this post has not turned out the way I expected it to.  It was supposed to be a small comment on how ‘the uncle who lives opposite us’ was one of the people to show me that a random act of kindness (like buying a kid a book) was awesome, but that sometimes you need permission from a parent first, otherwise it could be construed as weird or inappropriate...

Oh, and the bike was still there, in case you were wondering.

Dad asked Mum to make a sweet dish and then he went round to ‘the uncle who lived (they’ve since moved) opposite us’s house to give it as a thank you.

Hmm...maybe doing this series is a bad idea...hmm...

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Ramadan in Cayman (part 3)

After Fajr, Br Mahmood narrated the second of the 40 Hadith.  This one is on the Foundation of the Sunnah and is, roughly, as follows:

'Umar ibn Al-Khattab reported: One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the prophet. Resting his knees against his and placing the palms of his hands on his thighs, he said, “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

Islam is to witness that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish prayer, to give the alms, the fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to the House if he is capable of travel.

The man said, “You have spoken rightly,” and we were amazed at him asking him and saying that he had spoken rightly. Then he said, “Tell me about faith.” The Prophet said:

Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in the providence (al-qadr) (or destiny) of both good and evil.

The man said, “You have spoken rightly. Then tell me about excellence.” The Prophet said:

Excellence (al-Ihsan)  is to worship Allah as if you see Him, for verily, He sees you.

The man said, “Then tell me about the Hour.” The Prophet said:

The one who is asked does not know more than the one asking.

The man said, “Then tell me about its signs.” The Prophet said:

When the slave girl gives birth to her master, when the naked and barefooted will become chiefs of the people, and when the shepherds of black camels will exult themselves in constructing tall buildings.

Then he left and I stayed for a time. Then the Prophet said:

O Umar, do you know who the questioner was?

I said, “Allah and His messenger know best.” He said:

He was Gabriel (as), who came to teach the people their religion.'

After this, we had the opportunity to discuss a range of topics, including aspects of Zakat, clothing, and the instruction to have a will done up.

At Jummah, we welcomed a revert to Islam - Alhumdulillah.

The Khutbah had a focus on the Qur'an, its rights over us, and how it will be a witness for or against us on the Day.  There are those of us (and I put myself at the top of this poor list) who struggle to read the whole Qur'an at least once in an entire year and, in doing so, are deprived of so many blessings that are attained by reading the Qur'an.

We heard of those who would read the Qur'an 60 times during Ramadan, and others who would complete the Qur'an every two days through the Blessed Month.  We heard of those who had read the Qur'an 18,000 times in one part of their house, and one who would read the entire Qur'an in one rakat of salaat.  Subhanallah.

We heard of how the Qur'an would advocate on behalf of those who were about to be cast into the Fire, that those of us who would otherwise be in Hell would be saved because we had taken the time to read the Words of Allah (swt).

After the Jummah prayer and greeting the new Brother, we then had to wait patiently for the rain to ease.

After Isha, Br Mahmood continued with the description of the Noble Features of the Prophet (saw):

Anas bin Malik (Radiallhu Anhu) reports, "Rasullullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam) was of a medium stature, he was neither very tall nor very short. He was very handsome, of medium built and his hair was neither very curly nor very straight (but was slightly wavy). He had a wheat-coloured complexion. When he walked, he leaned forward slightly".

He explained about the wheat-coloured complexion and how, when the Prophet (saw) walked (the word used in the hadith being 'Yata-kaf-fa-oo'), it was at a fast pace, with the leg lifted with force, and leaning forward slightly.  The description is that he walked quickly and did not walk with his chest pushed out with pride.  He also didn't drag his feet when he walked.

After this, there were further Q&A sessions on aspects of salaat and other areas.