Monthly Archives: September 2009

AGE WELL

Quest for a Long Life Gains Scientific Respect

Published: September 28, 2009

BOSTON — Who would have thought it? The quest for eternal life, or at least prolonged youthfulness, has now migrated from the outer fringes of alternative medicine to the halls of Harvard Medical School.

Robert Spencer for The New York Times

AGE WELL David Sinclair, left, and Christoph Westphal, co-founders of Sitris Pharmaceuticals, in Dr. Sinclair’s laboratory in Cambrdge, Mass. The company develops drugs that mimic resveratrol, a chemical found in some red wines.

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At a conference on aging held here last week, the medical school’s dean, Jeffrey Flier, was to be seen greeting participants who ranged from members of the 120 club (they intend to live at least that long) to devotees of very low calorie diets.

The heavyweight at the conference was Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. The company is developing drugs that mimic resveratrol, a chemical found in some red wines. Resveratrol has been found to activate proteins called sirtuins, from which the company derives its name. Activation of sirtuins is thought to help the body ride out famines.

Mice and rats put on a diet with 30 percent fewer calories can live up to 40 percent longer. They seem to do so by avoiding the usual degenerative diseases of aging and so gain not just longer life but more time in good health.

Sirtris’s researchers think that drugs that activate sirtuins mimic this process, strengthening the body’s resistance to the diseases of aging. The company has developed thousands of small chemical compounds that are far more potent than resveratrol and so can be given in smaller doses.

In mice, sirtuin activators are effective against lung and colon cancer, melanoma, lymphoma, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease, said David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School researcher and co-founder of Sirtris. The drugs reduce inflammation, and if they have the same effects in people, could help combat many diseases that have an inflammatory component, like irritable bowel syndrome and glaucoma.

Any sirtuin activator that averted all these diseases in people would be a rather remarkable drug. So there is considerable interest in how well Sirtris’s drug trials are going.

Sirtris’s senior director of corporate development, Brian Gallagher, said at the conference that four active clinical trials were under way.

SRT-501, the company’s special formulation of resveratrol, is being tested against two cancers, multiple myeloma and colon cancer that has spread to the liver. A chemical mimic of resveratrol, known as SRT-2104, is in a Phase 2 trial for Type 2 diabetes, and in a Phase 1 trial in elderly patients. (Phase 1 trials test for safety, Phase 2 for efficacy.)

Dr. Gallagher said that unpublished tests in mice showed that another chemical mimic, SRT-1720, increased both health and lifespan; after two years, twice as many mice taking the drug were alive compared with the undosed animals. Resveratrol itself has not been shown to increase lifespan in normal mice, although it does so in obese mice, laboratory roundworms and flies.

Sirtris has so far been doubly fortunate. No severe side effects have yet emerged from the clinical trials. The company has also been lucky in having apparently picked the right horse, or at least a good one, in a fast-developing field.

Besides the sirtuins, several other proteins are now known to influence longevity, energy use and the response to caloric restriction. These include the receptors for insulin and for another hormone called IGF-1, and a protein of increasing interest called TOR (“target of rapamycin”). Rapamycin is an antimicrobial that was recently found to extend lifespan significantly, even when given to mice at an advanced age. Since TOR is involved in the response to caloric restriction, rapamycin may extend life through this pathway.

Sirtuins may not be the most important genes for longevity, Dr. Sinclair conceded at the conference, because the pathways controlled by the sirtuins, TOR and the others “all talk to each other, often by feedback loops.”

Many theories of aging attribute senescence to the inexorable buildup of mutations in a person’s DNA. Dr. Sinclair said that in his view “aging can be reversed” because the DNA mutations did not directly cause aging. Rather, they induce the sirtuin molecules that help control the genome to divert to the site of damage. With the sirtuins absent from their usual post, genes are not regulated efficiently, and the cells’ performance degrades. Diversion of the sirtuins should be a reversible process, in Dr. Sinclair’s view, unlike DNA damage, which is not.

“In five or six or seven years,” said Christoph Westphal, Sirtris’s other co-founder, “there will be drugs that prolong longevity.”

But neither Dr. Sinclair nor Dr. Westphal was the most optimistic person at the conference. That status belonged to the English gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, who sports a beard so luxuriant that it is hard to see if he is wearing a tie. His goal is “negligible senescence.”

Some attendees were so convinced of the virtues of less food that they have begun severe diets of various kinds. Cynthia Kenyon, of the University of California, San Francisco, said she had gone on a low-carb diet in 2002 after finding that food with even 2 percent sugar reduced the lifespan of the laboratory roundworms she studies. “Basically I try to steer clear of desserts and starches, though I do eat chocolate,” she said.

Her willowy figure makes her look at least a decade younger than her age. But a practitioner of more severe caloric restriction who was at the conference looked gaunt and a little frail.

Sirtris’s quest for longevity drugs is founded on solid and promising research. But most drugs fail at some stage during trials. So there is no guarantee that any of Sirtris’s candidate compounds will work in people. The first result from a Phase 2 clinical trial is not expected until the end of next year at the earliest.

Meanwhile, it is a pleasant and not wholly unfounded thought that, just possibly, a single drug might combat every degenerative disease of Western civilization.

Being American — and Muslim

Shireen Khan rides a bus in New York City
Shireen Khan rides a bus in New York City.
Nicholas Hegel McClelland for TIME.com

It was evening rush hour in New York City. 42nd St. was packed, and I was hoping I would make the bus. His voice came out of
the crowd.

“Take that rag off!”

Huh?

In my four months of working in New York, that was a first. Actually,
that was a first in the seven years since I started wearing a
hijab. A lot of people turned to look at me as he shouted those
words. I don’t know exactly what I was feeling — some mixture of
anger and embarrassment — but I knew I wanted to stop and explain to
this man the significance of what he dismissed as a “rag.” He didn’t
understand the one thing I cherished most, the thing that I took so much
care in making sure I did right — my religion.

It’s second nature to me now, but in the beginning, learning how to
put on my hijab was a challenge. I taught myself how to tuck my
hair in neatly, where to fasten the safety pin, and what material would
best stay put. It is now the thing that people notice first when they
see me. As a 23-year-old Muslim woman, I can’t imagine walking out of my
house without it.

The explanations for wearing the hijab often start with
modesty. But modesty, like religiosity, is relative. Who am I to say
that I am more modest than someone else just because I cover my hair? I cover because God commanded it in the Qur’an. Wearing
the hijab is first and foremost an act of worship and obedience;
after that, it serves to check my modesty.

Other values such as charity, tolerance and respect, are some of the
same ones that Muslims, American or not, are taught to uphold in their
daily lives. As an American-born Muslim, it’s easy for me to follow
these values — just as easy as it is for my husband and his friends
to gather together to watch the Super Bowl: just sketch in some beards,
insert a prayer break and delete the alcohol. (The legal drinking age is
one American law that Muslims disregard completely — Islam prohibits
alcohol consumption, at any age.) Such strict rules, to some, are a sign
of extremism, and so are the beards — to some, our five daily prayers
are another.

When I was nine years old, my father took a job in Saudi Arabia and
moved our family from Virginia to Riyadh. In Saudi Arabia, there was
easy access to mosques — almost every street or neighborhood had one.
While out shopping, I didn’t have to plan around prayer times: shops
closed at each prayer, and we would simply walk over to the closest
mosque, pray, then resume our shopping. It’s different in America. When
I shop with a friend at a mall in New Jersey, we often find ourselves
looking for a place to pray. We prefer quiet, secluded areas, but
sometimes we have to resort to the fitting rooms. We carry outfits into
separate stalls and pretend to try them on. When I finish praying, I ask
my friend “Are you done?” Yes, she answers, but now she wants to try on
the clothes, and more often than not, we actually end up leaving the
store with a new pair of something.

Prayer is one of the five basic pillars of Islam. “Everyone prays,”
my husband says. People innately want to call out to God. We all do it,
in different ways. By missing my prayers, I would be shrugging off one
of the most important, yet basic, obligations of my faith — being
observant of it doesn’t make me less “American.”

So as I continued my walk to the Port Authority bus terminal that
day, it might have seemed like I didn’t hear that man yell what he did.
But I did. I just chose to ignore it. I figured it wasn’t the right time
to have a discussion, so I just let it pass. I have rarely been bothered
by anybody about my hijab. If anything, I often get complimented
on it. I may cover my hair for the sake of God, but I love getting it
cut and styled. I have a husband who can’t understand how I spend so
much time at the mall; I have big dreams for work; I play sports; I love
to run. I cringe at the word extremist. And I thank God that I am both
Muslim and American at the same time.

Shireen Khan is a producer for Time.com

Gaddafi on Obama, Israel and Iran

Exclusive Interview: Gaddafi on Obama, Israel and Iran

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

Marc Asnin / Redux for TIME

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On Sept. 24, TIME editors Romesh Ratnesar and Michael Elliott met with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Given your experience in dealing what the United States offered
in return for giving up your [nuclear] program, what advice would you
give to a country like Iran? And what advice would you give to the
United States in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

America has the responsibility to reward and encourage such countries
who take such decisions, so that they will be able to use nuclear
energy or nuclear power in peaceful means. (Watch the video of TIME’s interview with Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.)

Upon the advice of our American friends, and others, when they told
us to maybe get in touch with Pyongyang and Iran, and encourage them
and talk to them so that they would not go to the use of nuclear energy
for military purposes, divert the potentials of the capability they
have for peaceful means, the actions or the answers from those such
countries was, What did Libya gain in the trade?

Are you saying that Iranians and North Koreans don’t think that Libya got enough benefits for giving up its program?

Indeed that’s what they said to us. Indeed.

Libya spoke to both the Iranians and the North Koreans on this topic?

Yes, indeed. Of course, I mean we have conveyed to them the wish of the
friends, that they got in touch with us, mainly in the interest, the
wish that they would take the peaceful road.

You’re chairman of the African Union at the moment. You referred
to President Obama in your speech yesterday as the “son of Africa.” Do
you feel a kinship with President Obama? And what would you like the
United States to do in Africa?

Indeed this kinship is there, is existing.

Regarding the second part of the question, Africa, I mean there are
good intentions, legitimately speaking, particularly with international
governing toward Africa — some sort of sympathy.

In the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people you
have advocated a one-state solution. Many people criticize that kind of
idea as something that would lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish
state, a homeland for the Jews. Do you believe that Israel has a right
to exist as a Jewish state?

I am keen and anxious for the safety of both the Jews and the Palestinians.

The position that we are in, the road that the world is going on,
would lead to the destruction of the Jews. Because generally speaking,
Jews as a community are limited, their number is limited, all over the
world. We know that they’re not that big. Unfortunately, they were
persecuted by all nations. They were persecuted by the Romans and King
Edward I. And we all know the Holocaust during Hitler’s time. Once
seeing the history like that we can only but sympathize with them as
Jews. The Arabs actually were the ones who gave them the safe haven and
the protection along all these areas when they were persecuted. (See pictures of the rise of Gaddafi.)

As recent as ’48 or ’49 — I was a little boy at the time but I can
still remember — the Jews were there in Libya. There was no animosity,
no hatred between us. They were merchants, moving from one place to the
other, traders … and they were very much respected and very much
sympathized with. I mean, they did their own prayers and we saw them.
They spoke Arabic, wearing Libyan uniforms, Libyan clothes.

So that’s why I said, the way things are going, in the end they
would — it will be the eradication of them, or the extinction of such a
community. And I believe that the whole world is plotting against them,
against the Jews. They want to get rid of them, the world wants to. And
things that happened in the past indicate or give witness to this idea
or this notion. It was the Holocaust in Europe. We all know that, this
is a fact. (Read TIME’s 1981 cover story about Libya.)

So what is the answer?

The answer is as follows: That we have to serve God, or guarantee the
safety of the Jews. And this can be done by them accepting the
Palestinians, recognizing the Palestinians, accepting that fact that
they should live with the Palestinians in one state, together.
Unfortunately, the Jews are fighting or struggling against their own
friend — the Arabs. The Arabs did not do the Holocaust, and the Arabs
are not the Romans who persecuted them or massacred them. The only way
open for them is to accept the Arabs and to accept to live with them,
to co-exist with them. Because the establishment of a pure Hebrew state
is not in their own interest. That would be a target. Their protection
comes from being part of the Arab scene. Mixing with the Arabs. I
believe that the youth supports me, supports my idea … Investors
would prefer this mixing with the Arabs, being with the Arabs, living
with the Arabs, co-existing with the Arabs. But they have to accept
refugees that were kicked out in 1948. This is a fundamental thing, a
basic thing. Otherwise, war will continue, the struggle will continue.

Some Americans still view you, and view Libya, with some
suspicion, despite the normalization of relations. How can that
impression be changed and do you think it ever will change?

This is the result of accumulation of so many years of strained
relations between our two peoples and our two countries. It was
propaganda … against us. It was very much exaggerated, this
information campaign, this sustained campaign against us. But if I may
… Over the process of years it will thaw out. I mean, just gradually
through contact, through dialogue, through investment.

I know that the Lockerbie case has come to a legal end,
but there are people in the United States who would still say, in 2003,
Libya accepted responsibility for its officials but it would be
wonderful if it was a heartfelt expression of remorse and an apology
for what happened. That might help thaw the ice.

It was always said that it is not us who did that and they don’t accept
the fact that they have a responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. And
all the nonaligned nations used to support the Libyan claim. But we go
through the resolutions adopted by … more than 150 countries, both of
the resolutions of the Arab League, all of the resolutions adopted by
the African Union, all of the organizations … conflict resolutions.

But of course, Americans, Libyans, the whole world express sympathy
or regret over such tragedies. No one would be happy over such
tragedies, no one would welcome such a tragedy, indeed, of course. Do
the American people feel happy, are the American people happy over the
killing of the Libyan citizens in 1986? And is the world happy about
the Gaza massacre? By the same token none of us are happy over the
tragedy of Lockerbie. Up to now, if you visit the house that was bombed
in the American raid, you will find a picture of my daughter, a picture
of the daughter of Jim Swire, in a frame there, and everybody goes
there. Our children are all victims. I mean, these pictures, just to
say the fact that we are all fathers of victims.

Tell us about your impressions of America.

We didn’t see anything because of the security measures.

Is there any place in America that you have always wanted to see?

America is so afraid of terror and terrorism to the point that they
don’t allow people to move around freely and see what they wish to see.
I really wish to see the whole of America, if it is possible.

Indian spacecraft finds water on the moon

By
  
IANS

Thursday,24 September 2009, 14:48 hrs

Bangalore: In a
sensational scientific discovery, India’s maiden lunar mission
Chandrayaan-1 has found evidence of water on the moon.

“The moon has distinct signatures of water,” top American scientist Carle Pieters confirmed Thursday.

“The evidence of water molecules on the surface of the moon was found
by the moon mineralogy mapper (M3) of the US-based National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA) on board Chandrayaan-1,” M3 principal
investigator Carle Pieters said in a paper published in the journal
Science.

M3 was one of the 11 scientific instruments on board the lunar
spacecraft that was launched Oct 22, 2008 by the Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO). The mission was aborted Aug 30 after Chandrayaan-1
lost radio contact with Earth.

Crediting ISRO for its role in the findings, Pieters said: “If it were
not for them (ISRO), we would not have been able to make this
discovery.”

ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair had told the media Wednesday that he
could not yet confirm the presence of water on the moon, but “before
the end of this week, we will let you know”.

However, confirming the finding and terming it a major discovery,
Pieters said the discovery of water on the lunar surface would
reinvigorate studies of the moon and potentially change thinking on how
it originated.

“Hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen
atom, were discovered across the entire surface of the Earth’s nearest
celestial neighbour,” claimed Pieters, a planetary geologist at Brown
University in Rhode Island.

Though the abundance of the hydroxyl molecules are not precisely known,
about 1,000 parts per million could be in the lunar soil, the paper
noted.

“Harvesting one ton of the top layer of the moon’s surface will yield
as much as 32 ounces (907 grams) of water,” scientists involved in the
discovery said.

As lead author of the M3 findings, Pieters said more evidence of water was found in the moon’s high latitudes.

“It greatly expands current thinking about where water in any form was presumed to be located,” she pointed out.

The findings give rise to interesting new questions about where the water molecules come from and where they may be going.

Scientists have speculated that water molecules may migrate from
non-polar regions of the moon to the poles, where they are stored as
ice in ultra-frigid pockets of craters that never receive sunlight.

“If the water molecules are as mobile as we think they are — even a
fraction of them — they provide a mechanism for getting water to those
permanently shadowed craters. This opens a whole new avenue (of lunar
research), but we have to understand the physics of it to utilise it,”
Pieters noted.

The NASA payload found water molecules and hydroxyl at diverse areas of
the sunlit region of the moon’s surface, but the water signature
appeared stronger at the moon’s higher latitudes.
Two NASA spacecrafts — the
Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) on the Cassini
spacecraft and the High-Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on the
EPOXI spacecraft also confirmed the data on the discovery of water by
M3.

“This is a very, very important finding… If somehow water was found
on the moon, you could use that water right out there. You could
extract it,” said Amitabha Ghosh, space scientist at NASA.

“Right now, we don’t know what temperature it is, and whether there is a cost effective way of extracting it,” he added.

Water on Moon

24/09/2009

Chandrayaan-1 spotted water on moon : Report

Bangalore/Chennai:
In a sensational scientific discovery, India’s maiden lunar mission
Chandrayaan-1 has found evidence of water on the moon.

Chandrayaan-1 spotted water on moon: Report

“The moon has distinct signatures of water,” top American scientist Carle Pieters confirmed Thursday.

“The
evidence of water molecules on the surface of the moon was found by the
moon mineralogy mapper (M3) of the US-based National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) on board Chandrayaan-1,” M3 principal
investigator Carle Pieters said in a paper published in the journal
Science.

M3 was one of the 11 scientific instruments on board the
lunar spacecraft that was launched Oct 22, 2008 by the Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO). The mission was aborted Aug 30 after
Chandrayaan-1 lost radio contact with Earth.

Crediting ISRO for
its role in the findings, Pieters said: “If it were not for them
(ISRO), we would not have been able to make this discovery.”

ISRO
chairman G. Madhavan Nair had told the media Wednesday that he could
not yet confirm the presence of water on the moon, but “before the end
of this week, we will let you know”.

However, confirming the
finding and terming it a major discovery, Pieters said the discovery of
water on the lunar surface would reinvigorate studies of the moon and
potentially change thinking on how it originated.

Chandrayaan-1 spotted water on moon: Report

“Hydroxyl,
a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, were
discovered across the entire surface of the Earth’s nearest celestial
neighbour,” claimed Pieters, a planetary geologist at Brown University
in Rhode Island.

Though the abundance of the hydroxyl molecules
are not precisely known, about 1,000 parts per million could be in the
lunar soil, the paper noted.

“Harvesting one ton of the top layer
of the moon’s surface will yield as much as 32 ounces (907 grams) of
water,” scientists involved in the discovery said.

As lead author of the M3 findings, Pieters said more evidence of water was found in the moon’s high latitudes.

“It greatly expands current thinking about where water in any form was presumed to be located,” she pointed out.

The findings give rise to interesting new questions about where the water molecules come from and where they may be going.

Scientists
have speculated that water molecules may migrate from non-polar regions
of the moon to the poles, where they are stored as ice in ultra-frigid
pockets of craters that never receive sunlight.

Chandrayaan-1 spotted water on moon: Report

“If
the water molecules are as mobile as we think they are — even a
fraction of them — they provide a mechanism for getting water to those
permanently shadowed craters. This opens a whole new avenue (of lunar
research), but we have to understand the physics of it to utilise it,”
Pieters noted.

The NASA payload found water molecules and
hydroxyl at diverse areas of the sunlit region of the moon’s surface,
but the water signature appeared stronger at the moon’s higher
latitudes.

Two NASA spacecrafts — the Visual and Infrared
Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) on the Cassini spacecraft and the
High-Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on the EPOXI spacecraft
also confirmed the data on the discovery of water by M3.

“This
is a very, very important finding… If somehow water was found on the
moon, you could use that water right out there. You could extract it,”
said Amitabha Ghosh, space scientist at NASA.

“Right now, we don’t know what temperature it is, and whether there is a cost effective way of extracting it,” he added.

Source: IANS

Islam and Education

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Islam and Education

Islam is the religion of peace, and it is one of the most sacred and trustworthy religions and in Islam to seek knowledge is a sacred duty, it is obligatory on every Muslim, male and female. The first word revealed of the Qur’an was “Iqra” READ! Seek knowledge! Educate yourselves! Be educated.

This importance of education is basically for two reasons. Education makes man a right thinker. Without education, no one can think properly in an appropriate context you. It tells man how to think and how to make decision. The second reason for the importance of education is that only through the attainment of education, man is enabled to receive information from the external world. It is well said that

“Without education, man is as though in a closed room and with education he finds himself in a room with all its windows open towards outside world.”

The reflective book of Holy Quran is so rich in content and meaning that if the history of human thought continues forever, this book is not likely to be read to its end. Every day it conveys a new message to the humanity. Every morning, Quran Recitation gives us new thoughtful ideas and bound us in the boundaries of ethics.

Islamic Education is one of the best systems of education, which makes an ethical groomed person with all the qualities, which he/she should have as a human being. The Western world has created the wrong image of Islam in the world. They don’t know that our teachings are directly given to us from Allah, who is the creator of this world, through our Prophets. The students of an islamic school are well groomed, ethical, educated and best citizens than that of other schools.

The Muslims all over the world are thirsty of acquiring quality education. They know their boundaries and never try to cross it. It is the West, which has created a hype that the Muslim are not in a path of getting proper education. They think that our education teaches us fighting, about weapons, etc., which is so false. This is true that there are certain elements, which force an individual to be on the wrong path, because as we will mould a child, they will be like that, but it doesn’t mean that our religion teaches improperly to us.

1 comments:

IftikharA said…

The demand for Muslim schools comes from parents who want their children a safe environment with an Islamic ethos.Parents see Muslim schools where children can develop their Islamic Identity where they won’t feel stigmatised for being Muslims and they can feel confident about their faith.Muslim schools are working to try to create a bridge between communities. There is a belief among ethnic minority parens that the British schooling
does not adequatly address their cultural needs. Failing to meet this need could result in feeling resentment among a group who already feel excluded. Setting up Muslim school is a defensive response. There are hundreds of state and Church schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school because bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods.

Va. synagogue doubles as mosque during Ramadan

RESTON, Va. — On Friday afternoons, the people coming to pray at this building take off their shoes, unfurl rugs to kneel on and pray in Arabic. The ones that come Friday evenings put on yarmulkes, light candles and pray in Hebrew.

The building is a synagogue on a tree-lined street in suburban Virginia, but for the past few weeks — during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — it has also been doubling daily as a mosque. Synagogue members suggested their building after hearing the Muslim congregation was looking to rent a place for overflow crowds.

“People look to the Jewish-Muslim relationship as conflict,” said All Dulles Area Muslim Society Imam Mohamed Magid, saying it’s usually disputes between the two groups in the Middle East that make news. “Here is a story that shatters the stereotype.”

Magid, who grew up in Sudan, said he did not meet someone who was Jewish until after he had moved to the U.S. in his 20s, and he never imagined having such a close relationship with a rabbi. But he said the relationship with the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation has affected him and his members. Beyond being tolerant, the synagogue and its members have been welcoming.

He said one member of the mosque told him, “Next time I see a Jewish person I will not look at them the same.”

Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, who leads the Reform congregation of about 500 families, said the relationship works both ways.

“You really only get to know someone when you invite them into your home … you learn to recognize their faces. You learn the names of their children,” Nosanchuk said.

The actual prayers are held in the building’s social hall, which is used by the synagogue for a range of activities from educational programs to dance classes and receptions.

Both the synagogue and the mosque have a history of sharing space with other religious groups. People coming to Friday night services at the synagogue sometimes park in an adjoining church’s parking lot; on Sundays, sometimes churchgoers park behind the synagogue.

And the mosque has rented space from others since it was founded in 1983. Members have prayed in a recreation center, a high school, an office building and, for a long time, a church. As the mosque has grown, however, it has needed more space. In 2002 the community opened its own building in Sterling, Va. It holds 900 people for prayers, but the community has satellite locations to accommodate more people: a hotel, a banquet hall and even a second synagogue, Beth Chaverim Reform congregation, in Ashburn, Va.

The community began renting space at the two synagogues in 2008. They began holding daily prayers at the Ashburn synagogue and prayers on Friday afternoons, the week’s main prayer service, at the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation.

This is the first year, however, they have rented space at the synagogue for the daily prayers for Ramadan, which began at the end of August. More than 100 people come to the daily services, which are held from 9 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. except for Friday, when the services are in the afternoon. The society pays the synagogue $300 a day.

The partnership isn’t entirely new. The two communities have held occasional events together going back a decade: dialogues and community service. Still, some members of both communities were unsure of how things would work at first.

“When they rented the place, I was surprised, but then after that when I came here and saw how nicely everything is set up and how well done it is … I am very happy with it,” said mosque member Ambreen Ahmed.

Now, mosque members sometimes greet the rabbi with the Hebrew greeting “Shalom”; he’ll answer back with the Arabic equivalent, “Salaam.” Nosanchuk spoke at Friday afternoon prayers recently. The imam spoke at Friday evening Shabbat services.

Both groups say the relationship won’t be over when Ramadan ends in North America over the weekend. The rabbi and imam are talking about possibly even making a joint trip to the Middle East, and Friday prayers will still be held at the synagogue.

Magid says some mosque members, in fact, have permanently moved from the mosque to the synagogue.

“Where have you been?” he asked one man who used to pray regularly at the mosque.

“You saw me in the synagogue,” the man replied.

“All the time?” the imam asked.

“It’s cozy, it’s nice. Your parking lot is overcrowded … and I like to be there,” the man said.

The imam joked maybe the man should stay for the Sabbath service.

Said the imam: “That shows you how comfortable they have become.”

Associated Press videographer Tracy Brown contributed to this report from Washington.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Refurbished Hubble Space Telescope returns new images

September 9, 2009 | 6 comments

 

Refurbished Hubble Space Telescope returns new images

CLICK TO ENLARGE + NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

The Butterfly nebula, formally designated NGC 6302, is a planetary nebula roughly 3,800 light-years from the sun. The term planetary nebula is something of a misnomer, which arises from the fact that they are often round and resemble planets in low-resolution observations. But in fact planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets—they are luminous clouds thrown off by dying stars.

The extended lobes of the Butterfly nebula are only a few thousand years old but were ejected with such high speed from their star that the nebula already spans more than two light-years.

This image of the nebula was released today in a suite of photographs from the newly revitalized Hubble Space Telescope. In a May space shuttle mission to Hubble, spacewalking astronauts completed a slew of repairs and upgrades to the 19-year-old observatory, including replacing the telescope’s workhorse camera with an enhanced successor, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). WFC3 captured this look at the Butterfly nebula in July.

India’s first Islamic bank to start in Kerala by 2010

India’s first Islamic bank to start in Kerala by 2010

Last updated on: September 01, 2009 20:26 IST

The first Islamic bank in the country with active involvement of the Kerala [ Images
] government is likely to start operations in Kochi by next year as the
bank’s registration formalities are currently being fulfilled on a war
footing.

The
Kerala industries department is actively involved in the new initiative
and a high level meeting held at Kozhikode on August 12 had approved a
project report prepared by Ernst & Young.

Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation, which is the
designated agency for the formation of the bank, will have 11 per cent
stake in the proposed banking company.

According to government officials in the know, it will be registered
as a non-banking finance company in the beginning and later get
transformed into a full-fledged Shari’ah-compliant bank. It is likely
that the registration formalities will be completed in the current year
itself and the NBFC will become operational in 2010.

The project proposes to raise an initial capital of Rs 500 crore (Rs
5 billion) from leading non-resident Indians and Indian business
houses. According to sources close to the development, leading NRI
businessmen such as Mohammed Ali, MA Yusuf Ali, CK Menon and other
Kerala-based industrialists such as Azad Mooppan have shown keen
interest in the venture.

Though an RBI study group had eariler rejected the concept of
Islamic banking, it got the backing of the Raghuram Rajan Committee on
banking reforms. Purely based on Shari’ah principles, the bank will
avoid interest-based business activities.

The proposed Kerala-based bank plans to invest funds in
infrastructure projects, and two areas, Bai al Salam and Instinsa,
under Shari’ah have been identified for such investments.

The bank will invest all its funds in wealth generating investment
avenues and will distribute profit to its shareholders. The proposed
Islamic bank will also set apart a social fund, compulsory under
Shri’ah principles and the Islamic banking concept, and will provide
interest-free loans to the Gulf returnees to set up business or small
scale ventures.

The concept is getting widespread support among the Muslim community
of the state as a large number of rich Muslims are strictly practicing
Shari’ah principles in business.

A major chunk of such persons do not have a bank account. A lot of
discussion is also going on whether investment in capital market is
against Shari’ah principles. A section of the community believes that
share trading is against the fundamentals of Islam. So the formation of
an Islamic bank will be a relief to them.

This concept is very popular in West Asia and in predominantly
Muslim nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Leading international
banks such as HSBC and Standard & Charted have exclusive Islamic
banking windows.

According to sources, the biggest challenge before the Kerala-based
bank will be the formation of a Shai’ah Supervisory Board in order to
monitor the activities of the bank. The board should include
independent scholars on Shari’ah and banking business.

George Joseph in Kochi