Friday, March 04, 2011
LEMONGRASS (Cymbopogon citratus) is so named because of the lemon-like fragrance it emits from its leaves when crushed or boiled. It is a popular perennial grass, the leaves of which grow up to one meter long. It is cultivated in many countries for its fragrant leaves.
In the Sahih it is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Do not cut its plant.” Al-Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said except for Al-ithkhir, O Messenger of Allah (pbuh) for their (the people of Makkah) servants use it and it is also used for their houses.” The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Except for Al-ithkhir.”
The Palmarosa species of the lemongrass has a distinct sweet-smelling oil that can be of significant use in aromatherapy. It has a calming effect that can relieve stress and tension in the body. One can enjoy the relaxing mood effect of lemongrass by using it in a massage or during bath. The lemongrass can even be utilized as a mild depressant.
The lemongrass also has good effects on the body. It can help significantly in detoxifying the organs in the digestive system like pancreas, kidney, bladder and liver.
This is made possible because the lemongrass helps in cutting down cholesterol, uric acid and toxins in the system.
At the same time, this helps in stimulating digestion and blood circulation. Consequently, gastroenteritis and indigestion can be avoided. It also strengthens and gives tone and vitality to the body, lowers body heat and prevents or cures spasms. Its use is recommended in cases of vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dysmenorrhea, chronic rheumatism, and sprains. It is also very useful for insomnia or sleeplessness.
Anti-inflammatory/analgesia: Conflicting analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects have been demonstrated in experiments on animals.
Antioxidant action: Lemongrass oil (C. citratus ) has shown antioxidant and radical-scavenging activity in several experiments.
Cardiovascular: Dose-related hypotensive effects and weak diuretic actions have been demonstrated in rats. In one study, lemongrass extract reduced the cardiac rate but did not alter the contractile force in isolated rat hearts.
Diabetes: A study found that lemongrass leaf tea ingested for two weeks induced no hypoglycemic changes; however, an experiment on rats demonstrated dose-dependent decreases in fasting blood glucose levels.
Commonly used for its citrus-like flavor in soups and teas in Asian cuisines, lemongrass is also thought to have medicinal properties and medical uses, some of which have been supported in scientific research.
Anti-cancer: Lemongrass essential oil may protect against cancer, according to a study published in the November 2010 “Journal of Applied Toxicology.”
Laboratory mice exposed to a substance that damaged white blood cells and to several carcinogenic substances consumed 500 mg of lemongrass essential oil per kg of body weight, and showed less white blood cell damage and fewer cancerous growths than controlled groups that did not receive lemon grass, according to study authors L.T. Bidinotto et al., at Instituto de Biociências, Botucatu, Brazil.
Anti-inflammatory: Lemongrass tea may offer potent anti-inflammatory benefits, according to researchers V. Francisco et al. at Centro de Estudos Farmacêuticos, Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Rich in polyphenol anti-oxidants, lemongrass leaf extract inhibited nuclear factor kappa-B – a gene that promotes the body’s stress response – and also inhibited a pro-inflammatory enzyme, in the cell culture study, published in the January 2011 “Journal of Ethnopharmacology.” The researchers concluded that lemongrass tea may have promise for the treatment of inflammatory conditions.
Anti-convulsant: Anti-convulsant effects against neurotoxins such as strychnine may be included in the list of health benefits of lemongrass essential oil, according to a study by M.R. Silva et al. at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Federal University of Cear?, Cear?, Brazil.
How to Use
The extract from the leaves is to be taken internally with milk or as a herbal tea to take care of all the ailments listed under medicinal use.
Lemongrass is generally recognized as safe.
A suggested safe limit for humans (based on an experiment in rats) is 0.7 mg/kg/day of the essential oil.
Lemongrass may sound and look very ordinary to you but there are many wonders you can get from this plant. So get to know lemongrass better and it may just be the answer to one of your needs today.
– The writer can be contacted on Islamicmedicines@gmail.com
Name a positive Arab or Islamic character from a Hollywood film. Not easy, is it?
But don't worry, there is nothing wrong with your knowledge of popular culture. Those characters, for the most part, simply don't exist.
From Rudolph Valentino's The Sheik in the 1920s, through Peter O'Toole's Lawrence of Arabia in the 1960s, to Arnold Schwarzenegger's True Lies, Arabs have been portrayed by a rogue's gallery of cartoonish, blood-thirsty criminals and harem-dwelling belly dancers.
Those stereotypes quickly come to mind when an Osama bin Laden arrives on the scene. Post September 11, things have hardly improved, with Hollywood's Arab caricatures reaffirmed in television's 24 and the risible Sex and the City 2.
One person who has tried to stem this relentless tide of bad publicity is Dr Naif al Mutawa, the Kuwaiti creator of The 99, a comic book series whose 99 Islamic superheroes are named after the names of Allah.
While The 99, which was recently commissioned to release a crossover series with DC Comics, received critical acclaim from Arab and international media alike, predictably there has been a backlash from conservative voices in the US.
An animated television series of The 99 was scheduled for mid-October but has been postponed until January. This planned exposure on American television screens has riled the religious right in the US - which, admittedly, is not so difficult to rile.
"Hide your face and grab the kids. Coming soon to a TV in your child's bedroom is a posse of righteous, Shariah-compliant Muslim superheroes," Andrea Peyser in the New York Post wrote. "These Islamic butt-kickers are ready to bring truth, justice and indoctrination to impressionable western minds."
There were others. The conservative blog Patriot Post debated, somewhat hysterically, whether The 99's "old-fashioned values" would include honour killings and suicide bombings, while other forums accused DC comics of "Muslim pandering" and, laughably, "treachery".
The irony that they are the ones spewing religious hate seems lost on these angry voices.
The 99 are not the only other modern Islamic comic book heroes. Iman, the brainchild of the Dubai author Rima Khoreibi, is a teenage, cape and headscarf wearing Muslim girl who helps children deal with their problems. Khoreibi, whose 2005 book The Advetures of Iman dealt with racism and feminism among other issues, also cited the Quran as her inspiration.
Acclaim came from mainstream sources. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, a strong critic of honour killings and the abuse of women, lauded Khoreibi's creation and her role in showing a moderate face of Islam.
The truth is that every society requires its own heroes. In a memorable episode of The Simpsons, the hapless Homer is cast as the lead role in the film adaptation of the comic book hero Everyman. It satirically brought to light a craving for a new breed of caped crusader who the masses could identify with.
Hollywood has not been slow on the uptake. Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Kick-Ass and Defendor are just three movie adaptations of comic books starring, not so much superheroes, but wannabe heroes.
These do-it-yourself vigilantes are not faster than a speeding bullet, cannot swing from buildings and their uniforms are not made of iron. They are ordinary folk who have found themselves fighting the eternal battle of good versus evil (hero attire optional). They are you and me. They are, in essence, Everyman. Or, indeed, everyman.
They capture the zeitgeist perfectly. If America needs its new heroes with old fashioned virtues, why can't the Arab world have its own?
Even the most powerful man in the world, Barack Obama, is not safe from the powers of everyman. Whatever you may think of the Tea Party, their recent success in the US midterm elections has shown that the message of ordinary people taking back their country has struck a resonant chord with, well, the ordinary people.
Which brings us back to The 99. It is hoped that with their increasing influence, the conservative voices can see beyond their prejudices when it comes to positive Islamic role models.
The 99 deserve their day in the sun, and indeed on the screens.
A protest of a Muslim fundraising event in Orange County last month devolved into chants of "Muhammed was a pervert," "you beat your wife and rape your children," and the like, according to a new video of the demonstration (see below).
The Feb. 13 Islamic Circle of North America event aimed to raise money to fund women's shelters and fight homelessness in the area. But attention was drawn to the event because of two controversial speakers, Siraj Wahhaj and Abdel Malik Ali. The Orange County Register reported:
Wahhaj is an imam at a mosque in Brooklyn. A U.S. attorney named him and 169 others as co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj was never charged and has denied involvement.
Malik Ali is a Bay Area Islamic activist who spoke at "Israeli Apartheid Week" at UC Irvine in 2010. There he said he supports Hezbollah, which the CIA labels a terrorist group.
To be clear, opponents of the two men have every right to protest them. But the demonstration, which drew at least two members of Congress and several local politicians, quickly devolved into ugliness.
At one point, Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly noted that she had a young son who is in the Marines, then added: "I know quite a few Marines who would be happy to help these terrorists to a, uh, early meeting in paradise." That line was met with laughter and applause.
According to the Register, a splinter group of about 100 protesters broke off from the main demonstration to stand near the entrance of the fundraising event and shout at Muslim families as they walked in. Among the chants: "Go back home" ... "USA! USA!" ... "Muhammad was a pervert. Muhammed was a fraud. Muhammed was a false prophet."
Here's a video of the protest compiled by the Muslim group CAIR:
Suasana di pejabat tiba-tiba menjadi agak hening. Tidak kesibukan seperti biasa. Tiada kedengaran suara-suara meninggi atau hilaian ketawa. Seakan suasana berkabung. Mungkin kerana musim panas telah tiba dan ramai yang tiada mood untuk bekerja. Suhu mencapai 40 darjah dengan humiditi yang tinggi. Sesak nafas dibuatnya dan seakan masuk dalam dapur oven.
Ramai juga para staf yang sedang bercuti. Yang lain pula merancang untuk bercuti.
Dari tingkap yang menghala ke pulau palma Jumeirah, teluk Arabia juga kelihatan tenang. Burung-burung berterbangan bersama deruan ombak menghiasi jalur-jalur panorama. Bagai lukisan tergantung di ruang tamu.
Sambil menghela nafas, dia cuba melupakan kerancakan pembinaan pelbagai skruktur di pulau Palma. Kesibukan yang menambahkan warna-warna realiti. Kesibukan yang selama ini mengisi sebahagian dari kehidupan perantauan.
Matanya kembali menatap piksel-piksel di layar komputer. Kembali ke dunia digital. Ke dunia emosi elektronik. Gaya kehidupan yang sedikit kontras. Ada tiga skrin di layar monitor LCD. Di sebelah kiri, skrin yang menyenaraikan emel. Di tengah emel yang sedang ditulis. Paling kanan, tapak web yang dilayari.
Dia cuba menyambung emel, urusan kerja yang perlu dijawab segera. Tetapi matanya masih di skrin kanan. Masih pada sebuah blog yang mengisi benak fikiran. Siri catatan seorang anak gadis yang meratah hati.
Setiap catatan memberikan ruang yang semakin luas dengan perasaan, impian, harapan, realiti, innocent dan seribu kemungkinan. Dia tahu masanya telah tiba. Dia telah lama bersedia. Mindanya telah lama dipersiapkan untuk menerima hakikat. Hakikat yang mesti dilalui dengan minda terbuka dan kewarasan.
Begitu cepat juga masa berlalu. 10 tahun pergi begitu cepat. Anak gadis yang dulu 8 tahun, sudah berusia 18 tahun. Sudah lengkap sebagai seorang anak gadis remaja.
Sudah juga bersedia untuk mengharung ranjau realiti dalam belantara kehidupan. Keluar dari kepompong dan tabir yang semakin robek di tarah musim.
Dia tersenyum menatap catatan yang begitu berterus-terang. Tidak berselindung. Dia tahu, anak gadisnya sengaja tidak menutup PC di bilik rujukan rumahnya sewaktu dia pulang. Membiarkannya terpasang.
Mulanya dia sekadar menoleh, tetapi sebaik terpandang blog ‘Catatan Adelaide’, dia terus membaca kesemua catatan. Termasuk arkib. Blog itu masih baru kelahirannya, sempena ulang tahun hari kelahiran ke lapan belas.
Airmatanya menitis. Airmata seorang ayah yang masih menanggung sesuatu. Tetapi dalan hatinya ada sesuatu yang tidak mampu dizahirkan. Dibiarkn bersama jejak-jejak perjalanan usia.
Dia bangga. Terhibur.
Ya, Adelaide sudah dewasa. Adelaide mewarisi kecantikan ibunya. Saling tidak tumpah. Seakan kembar dua. Atau klon. Bagaimanakah dia boleh melupakan segalanya begitu sahaja? Zuriat yang dikongsi terus menghidupkan setiap yang pernah menjadi sebahagian dari nafasnya.
Adelaide masih ingat. Walau mungkin banyak yang samar-samar. Ayah datang ke rumah ibu di Perth dan mengambilnya untuk bersiar. Tetapi sebaliknya mereka naik kapalterbang ke Pulau Krismas. Sebaik tiba Ayah terus membawa dia berlayar dengan bot kepunyaan kawan.
Dia memang keseronokan kerana tidak pernah menaiki bot. Masa itu usianya baru 8 tahun. Dia agak mabuk di tengah laut dan tidur. Apabila tersedar, mereka sudah tiba di tempat lain. Kemudian mereka menaiki kereta dan berhari-hari dalam perjalanan. Pemandangan yang berbeda. Wajah-wajah dan persekitaran yang juga berbeda.
Dia menangis teringat ibu tetapi ayah memujuk. Berjanji untuk pulang segera ke Perth. Tiba di sebuah kota, ayah bercakap mengenai paspot. Pergi ke beberapa pejabat. Tinggal di hotel. Ketika itu dia terasa amat letih. Terlalu rindu pada ibu. Begitupun dia seronok melihat kota yang gawat itu dengan manusia yang padat.
Beberapa hari kemudian, mereka naik kapalterbang. Tetapi destinasi bukan Perth.
Kata ayah dalam pesawat, “Sudah sampai di Kuala Lumpur!”
Selama ini dia mendengar cerita dari ayah tentang Kuala Lumpur. Tiba-tiba dia berada di situ. Keliru. Mengapa Kuala Lumpur?
Yang pasti dia dapat melihat wajah ayah dan dirinya di akhbar-akhbar dan skrin TV. Ramai orang yang mahu datang berjumpa. Tetapi dia mahukan ibunya. Ramai yang memujuk dan ayah sentiasa berada disisinya.
Adelaide hanya memahami apa yang berlaku beberapa tahun kemudian. Ketika itu ayah memperkenalkan seorang wanita. Bertudung dan berbeda dari wajah ibunya.
“Ini ibu barumu!”
Baca seterusnya dalam kumpulan cerpen 'Ekspatriat' yang bakal di terbitkan oleh DBP