IS imposes harsh restrictions on Syria and Iraq during Ramadan

IS is making the holy month difficult for residents of Syria and Iraq by forbidding television, limiting daily working hours and strict dress code for women

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Ramadan. Image source: kemmannu.com
  • The new rules by IS have reduced working hours to two hours per day, rest of the time must be devoted to prayers
  • Satellite Television and other streaming devices are forbidden, says IS
  • IS has forced restaurants and pastry shops to remained closed during the day in Iraq

Islamic State (IS) is imposing a harsh set of rules on residents of areas it controls in Syria and Iraq during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan that began Monday, June 6.

These rules include forbidding the use of satellite TV receivers, limiting the hours of daily work and instituting strict dress codes for women.

IS recently conducted a campaign encouraging people in Syria and Iraq to destroy their television receivers “because they promote a psychological war against the caliphate.”

In a video that circulated among IS followers online, an IS figure talks about “the vices that television channels are bringing to the homes of Muslims which serve the enemy.”

In Raqqa, the IS de facto capital in Syria, IS has carried out a door-to-door search campaign to confiscate satellite television receivers and other streaming devices, according to Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group that reports on IS abuses in Syria.

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The activist group also said that IS has issued a new ruling that limits working hours each day to only two hours. The remaining hours of the day must be devoted to worshipping and prayer, it said.

A Muslim man reading Namaz during Ramadan Image: Wikimedia Commons
A Muslim man reading Namaz during Ramadan
Image: Wikimedia Commons

In Iraq, IS militants vow to stop civilians at checkpoints in Mosul, saying they will only be released if they surrender their television receivers, local news reports in Iraq said.

‘Dos and Don’ts’

Life is very tough for people under IS control during the holy month, officials say.

“Last Friday, imams in Mosul gave instructions to people on ‘dos and don’ts’ during Ramadan and Eid,” said Ismat Rajab, a former local government official in Mosul. This year, the holiday month ends on July 5, and is celebrated with a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr.

He said IS religious police in Iraq’s second-largest city have forced restaurants and pastry shops to close during the day. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.

Muslim scholars say IS is using Ramadan to further its radical religious views.

Push against West

IS “doesn’t differentiate between Ramadan and other months of the year,” said Sheikh Mohammed Sharaffadine, a scholar of Azhar University, one of the most prestigious Islamic institutions in the world.

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“But during Ramadan, they want to prove to their followers that they are more pious than other Muslims,” he told VOA via phone from Cairo.

People gathered to break fasting in mosque Image: Wikimedia Commons
People gathered to break Ramadan fasting in mosque. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

IS says it wants to spread its violent, anti-West ideology during Ramadan. In an audio message allegedly recorded last month by IS spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the group calls on its followers to launch attacks in the United States and Europe during Ramadan.

“Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready… to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers… especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America,” read the message, suggesting attacks on both military and civilian targets.

In another internet video, an IS narrator offers historical examples of Islamic conquests since the seventh century.

“By such propaganda, they don’t only target their sympathizers,” Saraffadine said of IS. “They also want to embroil ordinary Muslims in Western countries who live in those societies peacefully.” (VOA)

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Yoga: A Sacred Gift, with Love from Hinduism and India to the World

Yoga as a means of exercise for the body and mind is a deeply rooted concept of Hinduism for centuries, it is a gift from India to the world

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Yoga
Yoga as a means of exercise for the body and mind is a deeply rooted concept of Hinduism in India. Pixabay

BY Varuni Trivedi

Lord Krishna said to Arjun in the Geeta, “Restless senses, O Arjuna, forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection.” Patanjali’s description of the practice of yoga after the yamas and niyamas, directs towards the pratyahara, meaning turning inward of the senses. In simple terms when one is unable to restrain the senses, they become powerless to direct their minds. No matter how well-read or wise they sound while talking, it carries little importance without the practice discipline. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ (“to yoke”) which is more literally translated as “union of the individual’s Atma or soul with Paramatma or god (the universal soul). This is often understood as a union with the divine power by the integration of body, mind, and spirit. Thus, Yoga is what imparts an internal discipline, not only to the body but also to the mind and spirit. 

 

History of the art of Yoga

Bhagavad Gita, the holy scripture of Hindus also states the importance of yoga, “Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self” it beautifully quotes. The history of Yoga is accurately is difficult to trace its has many places of obscurity and uncertainty. In those ages, texts and teaching were passed down orally. Not only was the oral transmission of sacred texts is a common occurrence but the secretive nature of its teachings was also a recurring phenomenon. Furthermore, earlier writings on yoga were transcribed on fragile palm leaves that were easily damaged, destroyed, or even lost making it difficult to trace the exact time of its inception. However, experts claim that the development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, some researchers even think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old old. 

The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred known to mankind, the Rig Veda. These Vedas are sacred Hindu texts and were a collection of songs, mantras, and rituals to be used by Brahmans and Vedic priests. Later on, Yoga was slowly refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishi munis who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, which contains 200 scriptures. However, to date, the most renowned Yogic scriptures where Yoga and its benefits are mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita which was composed in around 500 B.C.E. 

Yoga’s long rich history can be divided into four main periods of innovation, practice, and development or the pre-classic, classical, post-classical, and the modern period. Yoga as a means of exercise for the body and mind is a deeply rooted concept of Hinduism in India for centuries.  Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Raja Yoga are considered the four main yogas, but with time and development now there are many other types. 

Yoga and meditation
Yoga is more of a spiritual act and it remains a vibrant living tradition. Pixabay

 

Yoga in the modern period

Yoga is more of a spiritual act and it remains a vibrant living tradition. It is seen all across the world as a means to enlightenment for the mind and soul. In the 1800s and 1900s, yogic gurus traveled to the West, gaining attention, and followers and making Yoga more and more famous. Essentially this spread can be traced back to, 1893 when in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Swami Vivekananda left the attendees spellbound with his speech. His lectures on yoga and wellbeing were a great catalyst in spreading the word about this art. Late, in the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India as the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, and other yogis became popular.

Krishnamacharya was the first to open a Hatha Yoga school in Mysore in 1924. Sometime later in 1936 Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society on the banks of the holy river Ganges, he aroused three students that continued his legacy and increased the popularity of Hatha Yoga. They were B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, and Pattabhi Jois. Sivananda himself wrote over 200 books on yoga and established nine ashrams and many yoga centers across the world, making yoga popular worldwide. In the western world, the importance of yoga and its popularity soared when Indra Devi opened her yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947. 

Yoga is popular in many parts of the world. Especially in the United States, yoga has become associated with the asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga, which have gained immense popularity as fitness exercises. Even though Yoga is central to Hinduism, other religions like Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, have also been greatly influenced by it throughout the world. Some of the most important Hindu texts which have laid the ground for yoga worldwide include the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

 

Yoga
The practice of Yoga asanas and meditation provides natural support to the immune system. Pixabay

Yoga and Modi

PM Modi has been a patron of yoga, practicing and propagating the idea of yoga and its importance worldwide. Recently at a yoga event called “Yoga for Peace” in Argentina’s capital Mr. Modi addressed the participants saying that the practice of Yoga connects everyone to happiness. The Prime Minister further said that if the mind is at peace, there would be peace in family, society, country, and the world as well. He went on to say that “Yoga is India’s gift to the world for health, wellness, and peace.” Yoga can be credited to connects us with wellness and happiness and bring peace of mind to many across the globe.  PM Modi further said that Yoga is bridging the vast distance between India and Argentina. It is connecting people worldwide and binding them in a positive light. PM Modi has on other occasions termed yoga as the “unifying force of the world”

Also Read: Paatal Lok and its Objectionable Motives

Yoga In the Times of Pandemic

The multiple benefits that the practice of yoga has on a person’s wellbeing are accepted all across the world. In these tough times when people are locked inside their houses as anxiety and worklessness eat them up, Yoga can be a great support. It would not only help to bring the mind at peace but also help with the body at such times when physical activity is low. Yoga could help deal with anxiety and stress which commonly surround people in a lockdown. In fact, recent studies have said that Yoga even helps in quitting smoking and other tobacco products. This can be a great time for people to quit their bad habits and turn to a path of spirituality. Yoga in every sense of the world is excellent support in these stressful times or literally every time. It brings harmony and peace not only to the mind but also to the body. 

 

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Travellers’ Wishlist for Post Pandemic World

Airbnb's internal data reveals future trip planning through search and wish lists created by guests

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winding-road-world
People around the world are ready with their future travel plans. Pixabay

As communities around the world slowly begin to open their doors, the idea of future travel is beginning to inspire everyone who has been home sheltering according to Travel News.

From cozy mountain cabins to beat the summer, poolside respites to cool off the heat wave, it’s the outdoors which is calling out to everyone. People have spentmonths cocooned at home, and despite the fear, they want to get out and travel, to live again. As travel planning starts to rebound, Indians are eager to get out onto the road and drive down to their favourite spot for a short staycation.

Short “drivable” destinations are what people are looking at, as air travel remain uncertain, people want to get to a place within short travel time of their homes. The beaches of Goa, the mountains in Himachal, the cool air of Mahabaleshwar are just some of the domestic holiday destinations that are trending.

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The beaches of Goa is just one of the domestic holiday destinations that are trending. Pixabay

Airbnb’s internal data reveals early signs of future trip planning through search and wish lists created by guests ready to reconnect with each other and the world. Travel might be restricted for now, but that isn’t stopping guests from dreaming of one-of-a-kind experiences in far flung destinations. Week-over-week, guests are increasingly turning to wish lists to save listings they hope to travel to one day.

Luxury Penthouses and villas in Goa: India’s tourist hot spot, Goa, is now just a flight away. Travelers can book dreamy villas placed in the heart of Goa, that are perfect to satisfy your travel cravings. With breathtaking views, your own plunge pool and one or two friends or family is all you need.

airbnb
Airbnb’s internal data reveals early signs of future trip planning through search and wish lists created by guests. Pixabay

The pollution levels are at an all-time low and the view of the Himalayan Mountain tops are what most travelers are dreaming about. A road trip into the hills with cooler temperatures and the panoramic views of the snowy peaks from your personal sauna, are sure to tick some boxes of your travel bucket list. There are many cottages one can rent with amenities which will make you feel it’s your home away from home.

The Indian capital is home to lavish apartments that could turn your weekend around. From luxury terrace apartments to which farmhouses, its the perfect abode to take a short weekend staycation with your partner.

An artist studio in Jaipur surrounded by heritage buildings, palaces and forts will transport you to a bygone era.

Villas are also the top 10 most wish listed space types globally and they stand second in the wish list inclusions at more than 20 percent growth week-over-week4. When it comes to special occasions beach fronts were the top pick before lockdown. Top keywords from wish lists created in the last 60 days indicate guests are looking to Airbnb to commemorate special occasions that may have been cancelled and are also looking to enjoy the sun in the warmer months ahead.

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People are planning Getaway after the lockdown is lifted and travelling is permitted. Pixabay

Top wish list keywords include:

Beach

Birthday/Bday

Wedding

Honeymoon

Anniversary

Getaway

Vacation

2020, Summer, Summer 2020

Online Experiences – The New Dinner and a Show

Also Read: Above 51% Women Believe Indian Schools Don’t Have Menstrual Awareness Programme: Survey

Online Experiences have swiftly evolved to be one of guests’ favorite ways to be transported to new destinations while at home, with 20,000 seats booked in the first two weeks since its launch in April.

According to a recently commissioned Airbnb online survey, 63 percent guests booked Online Experiences to be entertained, 60 percent to learn something new, and 67 percent chose to book to experience other cultures and lifestyles. Food and Drink is the most popular category, accounting for nearly 40 percent of seats booked, but guests are being drawn to a number of distinctive activities. (IANS)

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Author Maria Wirth Shares Her Opinions on The Idea of Hinduism

Author Maria Wirth speaks on Religion, Indian Culture, etc

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Maria Wirth
A picture of Author Maria Wirth. Facebook

By Muskan Bhantagar

Author Maria Wirth belongs to Germany and has been living in India from past 38 years.  She is the author of the book ‘Thank You India: A German Woman’s Journey to the Wisdom of Yoga’. Newsgram gets in a conversation with her over a telephonic interview. Here’s an excerpt:

Muskan Bhantagar: 38 years back when you came to visit india, what was the thing about indian culture or precisely hinduism that made you fall in love with it and stay back in India?

Maria Wirth: Actually, it was not too much India that attracted me. When I was in Germany still i had many questions like i was very much intrested in what is life and what is the meaning of life and I was reading on Buddhism at a time and I was not connecting Buddhism to India strangely, and i knew very little about India. So a friend convinced me to stop over in India and only when i bought a book by Swami Vivekananda, i discovered what great treasure is in India. I had no idea, anything about what Hinduism is about. it’s just what you hear usually in the west, is about caste systems,etc. So I didn’t associate India with anything positive actually and then by chance, I discovered there’s such a great treasure here and it is such a pity that we don’t know about it.

Maria
Maria recalls how initially she could not relate India with anything positive. Pixabay

Muskan Bhantagar: As we read in your articles that Islam and christianity have been promoting and propogating their religion for years now, but the hindus don’t do so. What do you think can be the reason behind this? 

Maria Wirth: Well I think, I was just writing an article I mean when you think how much Hindus have suffered over the last thousand years. So many were beheaded and tortured under the Muslims and then again under the British also. British were also very very brutual, especially after 1857 and etc. And hindus had no way to stand up for their religion. And I think this has gone very deep into the system of Hindus.

And then ofcourse after Independence, this secular education and even Hinduism is now put down even more than earlier. Earlier, education was not so under the Muslims, they had to lie low but they could still have gurukuls and their schools but not now.

So I think one reason is that you have been intimidated so much and also expect so much and like Arun Shourie, in his book he writes that 6th standard students learn in school, etc in Bengal that Islam and Christianity are the only religions which treat the human beings with dignity and equality. I mean such sentences. When you’re a child, it goes into you and then you just look down on it. And I think slowly slowly, even parents of these children say they have been brought up already like this.

Maria
Maria says that Hindus were previously tortured under the Islamic Community. Pixabay

Muskan Bhantagar: A large number of Indians are unaware about their own culture and heritage. What do you think can be a solution to this problem?

Maria Wirth: I mean it should get also in the schools. I was so shocked when I came to know that nothing is taught in Indian schools. Neither Mahabharata, Ramayana, Upanishad. Upanishad is philosophy, there is nothing to do with religion. It was very insidious that the British kind of bend or this stuff from being taught, because it doesn’t help them because it would make people strong. They wanted to destroy Indian sanskriti, Indian culture because it has lot of strength. Now like the young generation in India, they were brain-washed into believing that Hinduism is not worth anything. It’s so wrong, so wrong.

Author Maria Wirth spoke to us over various topics. We’re thankful to her for taking out time to talk to us and share her wise opinions. We hope to get more of her soon and help viewers know her better.