Verdict on 20pc pay raise for fed employees suspended

ISLAMABAD – A Division Bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday suspended the orders of a single bench, which had directed to increase 20 per cent salaries of all the federal government employees on account of ‘special allowance’.
The bench comprising Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan and Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi suspended the orders of a single IHC bench of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui who, on June 18 last, had ordered 20 per cent increase in the salaries of employees of attached departments and corporations of federal ministries on account of ‘special allowance’ in accordance with the employees of secretariat.
The federal government through a deputy attorney general (DAG) Sheikh Mohammad Yaqoob challenged the June 18 orders of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui while saying that the said allowance would cost Rs50 billion per annum to the national exchequer that the government could not afford.
The DAG contended before the division bench that the 20 per cent special allowance was approved for those employees of the prime minister’s secretariat who perform late sitting and are frequently asked to work even on their weekly off days.
“The federal government is already paying 300 per cent special allowance to the superior judiciary’s employees, 100 per cent to the policemen and the staff working at the presidency,” the DAG told the court.
He argued that the IHC single bench in its order did not exclude the departments where the employees are already getting the said allowance and directed the government to pay additional allowance to the tune of 20 per cent of their basic salary to all employees of the federal government and its allied departments and ministries.
Therefore, he prayed to the court to set aside the June 18 decision.
It is pertinent to mention here that the finance division during the tenure of former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had issued an office memorandum on March 6, 2013 wherein it was informed that the Prime Minister had approved 20 per cent special allowance to the employees working in the federal ministries/divisions and Prime Minister Secretariat.
Then employees of the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology, the National Archives, Federal Government College Teachers Association, the Capital Development Authority, the Departments of Communication Security and of Libraries, the National Centre for Rural Development, Pakistan Public Works Department and the Cabinet Division challenged the increase.
They prayed before the court to direct the government to indiscriminately pay the 20 per cent special allowance to all the employees of federal government.
Acceding to their arguments, Justice Siddiqui had directed the federal government to pay 20 per cent special allowance to all employees of the federal government on June 18, 2013.

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Prime Minister Youth Program Loan Scheme 2013

Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has announced Small Business Loans Scheme for unemployed educated youth to establish new enterprises across Pakistan. 100,000 loans would be disbursed under the scheme..

Prime-Minister-Small-Business-Loans-Scheme-2013

How To Apply and Registration Process

You can apply in PM’s Scheme for Small Business Loans Scheme as per eligibility criteriamentioned below. The federal cabinet has already given approval to all these initiatives.

All arrangements for the implementation of these programs have been completed. TheSmall Business Loans program will be completely on merit basis and transparent.

Therefore only eligible people should apply for this program. Government of Pakistan will announce the registration procedure with application forms after November 2013 and beregistered soon.

Eligibility criteria:

An individual, male or female, of age not more than 35 years and has an entrepreneurial potential is eligible to apply for the scheme.

Focus on women:

It is believed that increased economic participation by women can play a significant role in national development. In an attempt to encourage the same, 50% of loans will be given to female borrowers.

In addition, independent economic activity will empower Pakistani women both socially and in terms of finances.

Debt-Equity ratio:

A 90:10 debt-equity ratio would be followed with tenor of up to 7 years.

Pricing:

It is fixed at 8% for the borrower. However, the difference in the cost will be paid by the Federal Government at KIBOR+500 bps.

Refinancing:

The State Bank of Pakistan shall explore providing 50% refinance at the risk of participating banks.

Risk mitigation:

Government will share 50% of losses subject to a maximum of 10% of the loan amount.

Number of Loans:

100,000 loans would be disbursed under the scheme.

Size of Loan:

The amount of each loan can range from Rs.0.5 million to Rs 2.0 million.

Average Loan Size:

The average loan size would be Rs.1.25 million.

Allocation in Budget 2013-14:

Rs.5 billion have been allocated in the budget for the financial year 2013-2014.

Executing agency:

In the initial phase of the scheme, the National Bank of Punjab and First Women Bank would act as the executing agencies of the scheme under the guidance and supervision of the State Bank of Pakistan. Other Banks will be encouraged to join.

Sectors and Products:

The scheme encompasses all sectors of the economy. Standardized schemes,projects, undertakings will be designed by SMEDA. Additionally, projects designed by private sector service providers and individuals are included in the scope of the scheme.

HOW TO APPLY

You can apply in PM’s Scheme for Provision of Qarz e Hasna as per eligibility criteria mentioned below. The federal cabinet has already given approval to all these initiatives.

Therefore only eligible candidates should apply for this program.

Prime Ministry Youth Program Loan Scheme Application Form (Coming Soon) 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SALAH

Namaz
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والحمدلله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين
In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
All praise be to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the most noble of the Prophets and Messengers

1- The Prophet (PBUH) says that:   Salaat is the pillar of deen and the foundation of Islam. He who upholds salah has upheld Islam and he who leaves salah has left behind religion. (al-baihaqi) 

2 – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “The person that observes prayer properly, the prayer itself, blesses him with good wishes.” 

The Importance of SALAH
Salah (prayer) is one of the five pillars of Islam. Such is that importance of salah that unlike any other commandment, Allah called the Prophet (PBUH) to the heavens to proscribe him with the five daily prayers. Initially, the commandment was for fifty prayers a day, but fearing that this would become a burden to the Ummah, the Prophet (PBUH) requested for it to be brought down to just five. Despite this, the rewards for keeping the prayers are as if we had prayed all fifty. 

The daily prayers are a way for us to keep a close connection to our Creator. It is through salah that we can get our suplications answered and our needs fulfilled. When the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) were in need, they would turn to Allah in prayer. Salah is a way for us to show a commitment to our faith. Everytime we pray salah, we renew our commitment to Allah and relieve ourselves from the pressures of our daily lives.

Once Prophet (PBUH) once shook a dry branch of a tree so that all of the leaves of the branch fell off. Then the Prophet (PBUH)  said “The sins of those who pray salah, drop off as the leaves of this branch fell off.” Salah is thus the main path towards spiritual purification. It is through salah that we can gain self-discipline and good qualities. For example, in prostration (sajda) we submit our will to Allah in all humbleness. We also purify our hearts. The Prophet (PBUH) once asked his companions “Tell me if there was a river at the door step of one of you in which you washed 5 times a day would any of your dirt remain?” When he received the reply that none of it would remain he then said “That is like the 5 daily prayers, with which Allah wipes out our sins.” (agreed upon)

The last thing that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized at his deathbed was salah. He also said the first thing we will have to answer about on the day of judgement is salah. If our record on salah is good then insha Allah the rest of our reckoning will be made easier. The importance of salah was emphasized in the Quran about 500 times, so all Muslims should be aware of how central salah is to our faith. Indeed, the Prophet (PBUH)  said that “Salah is the only distinction between a believer and a non-believer.” (Muslim) So imagine of the status of that person who misses his prayer? What distinction does that person has from the non-believers?

A companion of Prophet (PBUH) came to him one day and asked him “What is the thing that Allah loves most?” Muhammad (PBUH) replied “The thing that Allah loves most is when his people pray salah on time.” (bukhari)

Despite this, so many of us miss salah completely or do not make salah on time. There is no excuse for this. Alhamdulillah, we even have prayer rooms at our universities. Imagine how Allah, the most merciful, appreciates when his servant turns to Him in prayer, interrupting all worldly duties. Whoever does salah, Allah makes his day easier and facilitates his needs in this world and also in the hereafter.

Another habit Muslims should have is to make salah wherever they are. So even at work, or when we are out, we should not miss the salah. The ground in which we pray salah, even if in the streets, will be a witness for us in the day of judgement. The Prophet (PBUH) used to say that the salah was the light of his eyes. Once salah becomes regular in our lives we begin to understand the meaning of this saying of the Prophet (PBUH). Salah becomes such a basic part of our lives that we feel empty without praying to the extent that we find relief in salah.

Finally, some of us may have missed salah in the past and may have not recovered those prayers thinking that missed prayers do not really matter. Salah becomes obligatory to all Muslims once they reach puberty. Therefore it is important that we calculate those prayers that we have missed and make up for them. We will be accountable in the day of judgement for every prayer that we miss and there is a severe punishment for missing the salah. Unfortunately, many fail to pray particularly the night and morning prayers (Fajr and Isha). Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “And if they only knew what was in the prayers of ‘Isha’ and Subh [fajr], they would come to them even if they had to crawl.” (Bukhari/Muslim)

May Allah strenghten our determination and steadfasteness in performing our salah and may we grow closer to our Creator through salah. Ameen. 

What is Eid al-Adha?

What is Eid al-Adha?

At the end of the Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca), Muslims throughout the world celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice).

What does Eid al-Adha commemorate?

During the Hajj, Muslims remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Abraham. The Qur’an describes Abraham as follows:

“Surely Abraham was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists. He was grateful for Our bounties. We chose him and guided him unto a right path. We gave him good in this world, and in the next he will most surely be among the righteous.” (Qur’an 16:120-121)

One of Abraham’s main trials was to face the command of Allah to kill his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah’s will. When he was all prepared to do it, Allah revealed to him that his “sacrifice” had already been fulfilled. He had shown that his love for his Lord superceded all others, that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dear to him in order to submit to God.

Why do Muslims sacrifice an animal on this day?

During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham’s trials, by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith.

Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. Muslims slaughter animals in the same way throughout the year. By saying the name of Allah at the time of slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred.

The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow Allah’s commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we should open our hearts and share with others.

It is very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash ourselves from sin. This is a misunderstanding by those of previous generations:

“It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Qur’an 22:37)

The symbolism is in the attitude – a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are fun or important to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah’s commands completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity in faith, and willing obedience that our Lord desires from us.

What else do Muslims do to celebrate the holiday?

On the first morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, and the exchange of greetings and gifts. At some point, members of the family will visit a local farm or otherwise will make arrangements for the slaughter of an animal. The meat is distributed during the days of the holiday or shortly thereafter.

PHOTOGRAPHY

This album starts with a collection of photos of the preparations for Eid Al Adha 2013

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kaun samjhe…

Kon Samjhay

یہ جولائی 2009 کی بات ہے۔ میں بہاولنگر کے مضافات میں موروثی بیماریوں پر ریسرچ کے سلسلے میں فیلڈ میں کام کررہاتھا کہ اطلاع ملی کہ ایک گھر میں دو بھائی اور ایک بہن ذہنی معذوری میں مبتلا ہیں۔ میں اُس محلے میں پہنچا تو پڑوسیوں نے بتایا کہ لڑکے آس پاس کہیں گھومتے پھرتے مل جائیں گے جبکہ لڑکی کو گھر میں زنجیروں سے باندھا جاتا ہے سو گھر میں مل جائیگی۔ میں نے اُس وقت تک ایسی خبریں ٹی وی پر ہی دیکھی تھیں۔ گھر میں داخل ہوتے ہی مجھے صحن میں ایک چارپائی کیساتھ زنجیروں سے بندھی ہوئی چھوٹے سر والی ایک لڑکی نظر آگئی (مقامی لوگ ایسے مریضوں کو دولے شاہ کے چوہے یا شاہ دولے کہتے ہیں)۔

میں فورا” لڑکی کیطرف بڑھا، لیکن ابھی میں نے زنجیر کو ہاتھ لگایا ہی تھا کہ ایک خاتون جھٹ سے سامنے آکھڑی ہوئیں اور غصے سے مجھے گھورنے لگیں۔ میں اُسے نظرانداز کرکے زنجیر کھولنے کیلئے جھکا تو اُس نے مجھے کاندھوں سے پکڑکر پیچھے دھکیل دیا۔

“کیسے لوگ ہو تُم؟ احساس ہی نہیں کہ اس بیچاری پر کیا گُزر رہی ہے”، میں نے غُصے سے کہا۔

وہ جواب میں تقریبا” چیخ اُٹھی، “اِسے تُم نے نہیں میں نے جنم دیا ہے، اس لئے مُجھے تم سے زیادہ احساس ہے اِس کا”۔

“عجیب ماں ہو تُم، اپنی ہی بیٹی کو جانوروں کیطرح باندھا ہوا ہے”

اُس نے میری آنکھوں میں آنکھیں ڈالیں اور دانت پیستے ہوئے بولی، “اسلئے کہ اگر میں اِسے جانوروں کی طرح نہ باندھوں، تو جانور اِسے بھنبھوڑ ڈالتے ہیں”۔

وہ اپنی رو میں بولتی گئی۔ خالص دیہاتی پنجابی مجھے بھی پوری طرح سمجھ نہیں آتی لیکن اُس کی باتوں کا جو مفہوم میری سمجھ میں آیا وہ یہ تھا کہ اگرچہ وہ لڑکی ذہنی طور پر معذور تھی لیکن بے ضرر تھی۔ کچھ عرصہ قبل چند لڑکوں نے کھیتوں میں لے جاکر اُسے اپنی ہوس کا نشانہ بنایا۔ معصوم لڑکی کو نہ کسی بات کا ہوش نہ احساس۔ اپنے کپڑے ہاتھوں میں تھامے جب وہ گھر واپس آرہی تھی تو محلے کے نوجون اور بچے اُس پر آوازے کستے رہے۔ بات کرتے کرتے وہ رو پڑی۔

“تُمہیں بڑا احساس ہے ناں اس کا۔ تو جاؤ اور اُن درندوں سے پُوچھو کہ اُنہیں اپنی ہوس پوری کرنے کیلئے میری بے زبان بچی ہی ملی تھی”۔

میں بوجھل دل کیساتھ وہاں سے نکلا تو پہلی بار مجھے احساس ہوا کہ نیوز کاسٹرز جب زنجیروں میں جکڑی کسی لڑکی کی خبر دیتے ہیں تو اُن کے لعن طعن کا نشانہ “سنگدل ماں باپ” ہوتے ہیں۔ وہ وحشی درندے جو ان والدین کے موم جیسے دلوں کو پتھر میں بدل دیتے ہیں، خبر میں کہیں نہیں ہوتے۔

آج کل جب لاہور اور فیصل آباد میں کمسن بچیوں سے جنسی زیادتی کی خبریں مسلسل نیوز چینلز پر چل رہی ہیں، تو مجھے وہ زنجیر بپا لڑکی بُری طرح یاد آرہی ہے۔ اس ملک میں مردوں کی سرشت میں وہ درندگی شامل ہوگئی ہے کہ اُن کی ہوس کے سامنے معصوم بچوں کا بچپنا اور شاہ دولوں کی معذوری بھی رُکاوٹ نہیں بنتی۔

کاش کہ جنسی زیادتی پر عورت کے بجائے مرد کا پیٹ پُھولتا۔

وہ میڈیا جس نے کفار کی فنڈنگ پر فحاشی پھیلا پھیلا کر قوم کا حال یہاں تک پہنچا دیا ہے۔
اسلامی سزاؤں کو ظلم کہتا ہے تو مجھے شدید غصہ آتا ہے۔
جب اسلامی سزائیں دی جانے لگیں گی۔
جب زانی کو سنگسار کیا جائیگا۔
جب ڈکیت کو عوام کے سامنے لٹکایا جائیگا۔
جب چور کے ہاتھ کاٹے جائینگے
تو دیکھینگے کون زنا کریگا اور کون چوری۔
لیکن یہاں تو لوگوں کو اسلام کی سزائیں ظلم لگتی ہیں۔
جبکہ اسلام جتنا پر امن معاشرہ چاہتا ہے اتنا امن کسی اور مذہب میں نہیں ہے۔
لیکن سمجھے کون!!!!

Practical Tips For Improving Your English

70 ways to improve your English

70 ways to improve your English

Start your own English language blog.  Even for people who don’t have to write in English, writing can be a great way of properly learning the kind of vocabulary you need to describe your own life and interests, and of thinking about how to stop making grammar mistakes. The problem most people have is that they don’t know what to write about. One traditional way to make sure you write every day in English is to write an English diary (journal), and a more up to date way of doing this is to write a blog. Popular topics include your language learning experience, your experience studying abroad, your local area, your language, or translations of your local news into English.

Write a news diary.  Another daily writing task that can work for people who would be bored by writing about their own routines in a diary is to write about the news that you read and listen to everyday. If you include your predictions for how you think the story will develop (e.g. “I think Hillary will become president”), this can give you a good reason to read old entries another time, at which time you can also correct and mistakes you have made and generally improve what you have written.

Sign up for a regular English tip.  Some websites offer a weekly or even daily short English lesson sent to your email account. If your mobile phone has an e-mail address, it is also possible to have the tips sent to your phone to read on the way to work or school. Please note, however, that such services are not usually graded very well to the levels of different students, and they should be used as a little added extra or revision in your English studies rather than as a replacement for something you or your teacher have chosen more carefully as what you need to learn.

Listen to MP3s.  Although buying music on the internet is becoming more popular in many countries, not so many people know that you can download speech radio such as audio books (an actor reading out a novel) and speech radio. Not only is this better practice for your English than listening to English music, from sources like Scientific American, BBC and Australia’s ABC Radio it is also free.

Listen to English music.  Even listening to music while doing something else can help a little for things like getting used to the natural rhythm and tone of English speech, although the more time and attention you give to a song the more you will learn from listening to it again in the future.

Read the lyrics to a song.  Although just listening to a song in English can be a good way of really learning the words of the chorus in an easily memorable way, if you want to really get something out of listening to English music you will need to take some time to read the lyrics of the song with a dictionary. If the lyrics are not given in the CD booklet, you may be able to find them on the internet, but please note that some lyrics sites deliberately put a few errors into their lyrics for copyright reasons. Once you have read and understood the lyrics,  if you then listen and read at the same time, this can be a good way of understanding how sounds change in fast, natural, informal speech.

Sing karaoke in English.  The next stage after understanding and memorizing a song is obviously to sing it. Although some words have their pronunciation changed completely to fit in with a song, most of the words have the same sounds and stressed syllables as in normal speech. Remembering which words rhyme at the end of each line can also be a good way of starting to learn English pronunciation.

Write a film, music, hotel or book review.  Another motivating and easy way to make yourself write in English is to write a review for a site such as Amazon or Internet Movie Database. Many non-native speakers write reviews on sites like this, and if you have some special understanding of the book, music or film due to your first language or knowing the artist personally, that would be very interesting for the English speakers who read and write reviews on the site.

Only search in English.  Switching your search engine to the English language version of msn, yahoo, Google etc. can not only be a good way of practicing fast reading for specific information in English, but could also give you a wider choice of sites to choose from and give you an idea of what foreigners are writing about your country and area.

Read a book you’ve already read or seen the movie of in your own language.  Although most language learners under Advanced level would probably learn more from reading a graded reader or something from the internet than they would from reading an original book written for English speakers, for some people reading something like Harry Potter in the original can be a great motivator to improve their English. To make this easier for you and make sure that it motivates you rather than just making your tired, try reading a book that you already know the story of. This not only makes it easier to understand and guess vocabulary, but you are also more likely to remember the language in it. If you have not read the book before, reading a plot summary from the internet can also help in the same way.

Read a translation into English.  Another way of making sure books are easier to understand is to choose a book that was originally translated into English, preferably from your own language. Even if you haven’t read the book in your own language, you will find the English is written in a slightly simplified way that is more similar to how your own language is written than a book originally written in English would be.

Skip the first ten pages.  If you have given up with a book in English or are reading it very slowly, try skimming through the first ten pages or skipping them completely. The start of most books tend to be mainly description and are therefore full of difficult vocabulary and don’t have a clear story line yet to help you understand what is happening and to motivate you to turn the next page. If the book is still too difficult even after the introductionary part is finished, it is probably time to give that book up for now and try it again after you have read some easier things.

Read a book with lots of dialogue. Opening up books before you buy one and flicking through them to find one with lots of direct dialogue in it has several advantages. If there is less text on the page due to all the speech marks etc, this can make it easier to read and easier to write translations on. Dialogue is also much easier to understand than descriptive parts of a book, and is much more like the language you will want to learn in order to be able to speak English.

Read English language comics.  Even more than books with lots of dialogue, comics can be easy to understand and full of idiomatic language as it is actually spoken. There can be difficulties with slang, difficult to understand jokes and/ or dialogue written how people speak rather than with normal spellings, so try to choose which comic carefully. Usually, serious or adventure comics are easier to understand than funny ones.

Read English language entertainment guides.  Nowadays most big cities in the world have an English language magazine and/ or online guide to the movies, plays, exhibitions that are on in the city that week. Reading this in English is not only good value, but it could also guide you to places that English speakers are interested in and where you might hear some English spoken around you.

Read English language magazines.  Like books, if you can read two versions of the same magazine (Newsweek in your language and in English, for example), that could make understanding it much easier.

Take a one week intensive course.  Although you cannot expect to come out of a very short course speaking much better English than when you started it, if you continue studying a little over the following weeks and months, the knowledge you gained then will gradually come out and mean that your level of speaking, listening etc. are better than they would have been if you hadn’t taken that course. This positive effect can still be true up to a year later.

Follow your intensive course up with an extensive course.  The more time you can spend studying English the better, but studying periodic intensive courses with a few hours of study a week in between is probably better value for money than any other system as it gives your brain time to subconsciously learn and start using the new language you have learnt before you introduce the next new “chunk” of language.

Supplement your group class with a one to one class.  Another good way to combine two different kinds of classes is to study both in a group class and one to one. Having a one to one teacher, even if just a couple of times a month, will mean that you can be taught exactly the language that you need, that you will have more time to speak, and that you can have as much error correction as you like.

Supplement your one to one class with a group class.  The benefits of having a group class are often less clear to students, but they include the fact that you will learn to deal with several people speaking at once, have a chance to practice skills such as interrupting people, and will hear a range of different viewpoints and topics.

Teach your children or friends some English.  Recent research has shown that elder children tend to be a couple of IQ points above their younger siblings, and the most likely reason is that explaining things to their little brothers and sisters gives them an intellectual boost. In the same way, teaching someone lower level than you the English you already know is a great way of permanently fixing that knowledge in your own brain.

Ask your company to start English lessons.  Even if you don’t need to speak English at work, English lessons can be a fun and reasonably priced way for your company to spend their training budget in a popular way.

Have English radio on in the background while you are doing your housework.  Even if you are not listening carefully, it will help you get a feel for natural English rhythm and intonation.

Play English language learning games on your Nintendo DS.  Although such games can have quite random language and are unlikely to improve your ability to speak English on their own, the next time you hear or read the same language elsewhere it will be really fixed in your brain by the fact you have played a game with it in already. It is also a nice way of taking a break from your other English studies while also doing some English. To make sure it really is a break and to avoid wasting time learning language from the game that is not much used in daily life, don’t bother writing down any new language you see in the game, but just try to learn it from playing the game again.

Say or think what you are doing in English as you do your daily tasks.  As you are doing your chores, try creating sentences describing what you are doing, e.g. ‘I am unscrewing the ketchup bottle cap’. This gets you used to thinking in English without translating, and can be a good way of seeing what simple vocabulary that is around you everyday you don’t know. yet

Watch English language films with English subtitles.  For people who can’t understand a film without subtitles but find themselves not listening at all when reading subtitles in their own language, this should be the way of watching a film that you should aim for. If it is too difficult to watch the whole film this way, try watching the (usually important) first 10 or 15 minutes of the film with subtitles in your own language, switch to English subtitles after that, and only switch back to subtitles in your own language if you get totally lost following the story of the film.

Watch films in your language with English subtitles.  If you are finding English films with English subtitles too difficult or you can’t find English films with English subtitles in your local video shop, this is a good second best option. Looking for local films with English subtitles can also sometimes be a good sign of quality, as it means the producers of the film are expecting it to be popular internationally as well.

Watch English films with subtitles in your language.  Again, this is not as good practice as English language films with English subtitles, but is more relaxing, can be easier to find suitable DVDs for, and is also possible with VHS.

Watch the same film or TV episode over and over again.  This can not only save you money on DVDs, but will mean that you can really learn the language without having to study it. Some comedies can also get funnier the more you watch them, especially if you watch them with no subtitles and so understand a little more each time you watch it.

Be realistic about your level.  One thing that holds many language learners back is actually trying too hard and tackling something that their brain is not ready for yet. Checking your level with a level check test on the internet, by taking an English language test (FCE, CAE, IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL etc.), or by taking a free trial level check and/ or lesson in a language school will help you find out what your level is and so choose suitable self-study materials.

Be realistic about your reading level.  Most researchers agree that people learn most when reading something they understand almost all of. If there are one or two words per page that you have never seen before, that is about the right level. If there are three or more on every page, you should switch to something easier and come back later.

Read graded readers (= easy readers).  These are books that are especially written for language learners like you, e.g. Penguin Readers. Although it can be difficult to find something as interesting as things written in newspapers or on the internet, in terms of learning the language only people who need to read for their work or an exam usually gain more from reading things written for graded readers. Graded readers of classic books like Charles Dickens also have the benefit of giving you a lot of knowledge about the literature, and culture more generally, of English speaking countries in a short time.

Read the whole thing with no help.  Although using a dictionary has been shown to help with both short term and long term learning of vocabulary, the fact that using it slows reading down can stop some people reading in English at all. Reading a whole book quickly through just for pleasure from time to time will help you remember how fun reading in another language can be.

Read and learn everything.  At the opposite extreme, it can be hard work but very satisfying to get to the end of a book knowing that you have learnt every word in it. See other tips on this page to make sure it is a book that is easy enough to do this with and to ensure that the vocabulary you learn is useful.

Watching English children’s films or TV programmes.  Although some of the vocabulary you can learn from things made for children can be a bit strange (lots of animal names and maybe animal noises, including baby names for things), the fact that not only the language but the structure of the story is simplified can make it an easy and motivating thing to watch. Like good language learning materials, the same language is also often repeated to make it memorable, and the use of catchy songs etc. can increase this positive effect on your memory.

Read English children’s books.  This is very similar to watching English children’s movies, but with the added advantage of there being more illustrations than adult books, which both helps you to understand the story and makes the page brighter and more motivating to read.

Keep a list of language to learn, e.g. a vocab list.  Even if you don’t often find time to go though your vocab list and it keeps on building up, just the act of choosing which words you need to learn and writing them down on a special list can help you learn them.

Go through your vocab list several times every day.  If a ticking off word on a vocabulary list on the train to work is inconvenient or embarrassing for you, you can keep your list of words to learn as an entry in your electronic dictionary, as a mobile phone to do list or as a text file in your MP3 player (e.g. iPod). Although the time spent transferring the information between different formats like these may seem wasted, in fact any time you spend using the vocabulary like this will help you learn it.

Convert your vocab list to English only.  One way to stop yourself translating and therefore increase your speed of comprehension and production is to learn all your vocabulary without the use of your own first language. Ways you can write a vocab list in only English include with synonyms (words with the same meaning, e.g. “tall” and “high”); with opposites (“high” and “low”); with pronunciation factors such as number of syllables (the number of beats, e.g. three for “de- ci- sion”) and the word stress (the syllable that is pronounced louder and longer, e.g. the second syllable in “baNAna”); and gapped sentences (e.g. “I am not _________________ in science fiction” for the word “interested”).

Cross out and delete.  Crossing out or deleting words, sentences or whole pages that you have learnt can be a great motivator, and save your list of things to learn becoming too big to handle.

Throw everything away and start again.  One of the things that can put most people off learning is a stack of half finished books or a huge list vocabulary waiting to be learnt. Simply getting rid of all that and starting again with something new from zero can be a great motivator and get your studies underway again.

Label things in your house or office with post-its.  The easiest vocabulary to learn is the vocabulary of things you see and use everyday. If you can write the names of things around you on slips of paper and stick them on the real thing, this is a great way of learning useful vocabulary. If you can leave them there over the following days and weeks, this is a very easy way of revising the vocabulary until it is properly learnt.

Label a drawing.  For people who can’t put labels on real things, the next best option is to take a photo of a real place in your life like your office, print it out, and then draw lines to all of the things you can see in the picture and label them in English with the help of a dictionary. You can do the same thing with places you pass through everyday like the station. Because you will see the same thing again and again, it should be easy to really learn the words for those things.

Keep a diary in English.  This is a popular method of making sure you use English everyday for people who don’t often speak English and can’t think of things to write about. The fact that you are writing about real things that have happened to you means that any words you look up in the dictionary will be vocabulary that is useful for you and easy to learn.

Online Chat.  The closest thing to speaking for people who don’t have the chance to speak English is online chat, as you have to think and respond quickly, and the language is short and informal just like speech.

Listen to the radio news in English.  You can make this easier by reading the news in English first, or even just by reading or listening to the news in your own language.

Read an English language newspaper.  Freebie newspapers like “Metro” in London are usually the easiest to understand, followed by mid-brow titles like “The Daily Express” or “The Daily Mail” in English. Popular newspapers like “The Sun” are more difficult because of the idiomatic, slangy use of language and the number of jokes in the headlines and articles.

Write fiction in English, e.g. short stories.  For people who find writing a diary about things that happen to them everyday boring, the best thing is to let your imagination go and write about whatever comes into your head. The advantage of this is that if you can’t think of how to say something in English, you can just change the story to something that is easier to explain. Perhaps the easiest way to start writing fiction in English is with a diary, changing any details you like to make it more interesting and adding more and more fantasy as the weeks goes on.

English language exercise videos. This is quite similar to how babies learn, by listening, watching and copying. It is also good for your health!

Learn a famous speech or poem in English by heart.  Although you may never hear or get the chance to say exactly that line, having one memorable example of English grammatical form in your head can make it much easier to learn other examples of the same grammar as you hear them. It is also something you can practice over and over without being as boring as grammatical drills.

Get tipsy (= a little drunk) before speaking English.  This can not only improve your fluency while you are drinking, but can also improve your confidence in future days and weeks by showing you that you can communicate what you want to say.

Use a dictionary while you are watching a movie.  Films often have the same words many times, so if you look up important words the first or second time you hear them; you should have learnt them by the end of the film. It is easier to use a dictionary if you watch with English subtitles.

Learn and use the phonemic script.  Although there are many sounds in English, there are even more spellings. By learning the phonemic script and writing vocabulary down with it, you can both add another stage to your vocabulary learning that should help you learn it more thoroughly, and improve your pronunciation. It can also make things easier for you by stopping you trying to pronounce different spellings of the same pronunciation different ways.

Learn some spelling rules.  Many people think that English spelling is random, but in fact most words follow some kind of rule, e.g. the “magic E” that changes the pronunciation of “mad” and “made”.

Record your own voice.  For people who don’t have much or any correction of pronunciation from a teacher, recording yourself and listening back makes it easier to hear whether you are really making the English sounds that you are trying to or not.

Use computer pronunciation analysis.  Although most programmes that claim to tell you when you are pronouncing correctly or not don’t actually do that, listening many times and seeing how your voice changes as you try to match the sounds and waveform given by a pronunciation CD ROM can be good practice and more motivating than just recording your own voice.

Learn as many words as you can of one category, e.g. animal words.  Learning similar words together can both expand your overall vocabulary and make them easier to learn by forming links between the words in your brain.

Take holidays abroad.  This is not only a good opportunity to speak English in situations where you really have to make yourself understood in order to live, but it is also a good motivator to study English seriously in the weeks and months before your trip. If possible, also try to use English even when you could use your own language, e.g. when you pick a guided tour of a museum or historic place or when you book a flight on the internet, and try to avoid package tours.

Draw pictures of the words you want to learn.  Especially if you are artistic, this can be a better way of learning vocabulary than writing translations or example sentences.

Find a foreign boyfriend or girlfriend.  No tips on how to do this here, but everyone agrees that getting or even just looking for a date in English can be a great motivator to improve your language skills.

Arrange a conversation exchange.  Swapping lessons and conversation with someone who wants to learn your language can be a good alternative for those who aren’t looking for romance, or can sometimes lead onto dating for those who are!

Sign up for an English language exam.  Even if you don’t need to take an exam and don’t want to or can’t take a special course to study for it, paying to take an exam like TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS or FCE can really motivate you take your English studies seriously.

Model your accent on one particular actor.  e.g. try to speak like Robert De Niro. Students who say they want to sound more like a native speaker have the problem that native speakers don’t sound all that much like each other. Choosing one model can make the task of improving your pronunciation more clear, and is quite fun. Doing an impression of that person also makes a good party trick.

Use an English-English dictionary. Trying to use a bilingual dictionary less and switching to a monolingual one can help you to stop translating in you head when you are speaking or listening, and other useful English vocabulary can come up while you are using the dictionary.

Occasionally talk to or e-mail your friends in English.  Many people find this a bit false or embarrassing, but if you think of it as a study club and set a particular time and/ or place, it is no different from studying math’s together.

Go to an English or Irish pub.  As well as having a menu in English and being a good way of finding out something about the culture of English speaking countries, you might also find there are free English language listings magazines, English language sports on the TV and/ or foreign people you can speak to.

Buy a speaking electronic dictionary.  Although most electronic dictionaries are not as good as paper ones for the amount of information they give you about each word, some of them have the very useful function of saying the word with the correct pronunciation.

Learn your electronic dictionary vocabulary list.  Most electronic dictionaries also have a button which you can push to see the last 30 or more words you looked up. By deleting words you decide are useless or you have already learnt from this list, you can use it as a “to do list” of words to learn that you can look at several times a day in the train etc.

Switch operating system to English.  Changing the operating language of your mobile phone, video recorder etc. to English can be an easy way of making sure you use the language everyday.

Set goals.  Deciding how many hours you want to study, how many words you want to learn or what score you want to get in a test are all good ways of making sure you do extra study.

Permissible Acts While Fasting

Permissible Acts While Fasting

Cleaning the teeth with the siwak (tooth-stick) or its modern substitute, the toothbrush, is allowed, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to use the siwak often while fasting. It is better to avoid the use of toothpaste during fasting hours.

Donating blood or unintentional vomiting does not break the fast.
Collected by al-Bukhari (Sahih Al-Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol.3, pp. 64-5, no. 115).

Kissing one’s wife while fasting does not break the fast, as long as moderation is observed.
Collected by al-Bukhari (Sahih Al-Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol.3, pp. 69-70, no. 125)

Taking medicine by way of injection, nasal sprays or eye drops does not break the fast, as they are not a form of eating.
Collected by Muslim (Sahih Muslim (English Trans.), vol.2, p.554, no. 2565)

Eating or drinking accidentally or out of forgetfulness does not break the fast.
Collected by Muslim (Sahih Muslim (English Trans.), vol.2, p.559, no. 2566

Bathing, swimming, or sitting in water to cool off while fasting is permissible.
Collected by al-Bukhari (Sahih Al-Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol.3, p.69, no.124) and Muslim (Sahih Muslim (English Trans.), vol.2, p.524-5, no.2363)

For someone to rinse out the mouth or to taste food or drink which is being prepared, spitting it all back out without swallowing any of the food or drink, is also permissible.
[7] Collected by al-Bukhari (Sahih Al-Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol. 1, p. 17, no. 7) and Muslim (Sahih Muslim (English Trans.), vol. 1, pp.9-10, no. 18)

Swallowing one’s saliva does not break the fast.
Collected by al-Bukhari (Sahih Al-Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol. 3, pp. 64-65, no. 115)