By Mehreen Mushtak (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) 


It has a numerous amount of meanings. Some may agree, while some may not. Lets have a look…

Focus to a teacher is attention

And to a photographer clarity

Focus to a doctor is the cost of life

And to a child, the fun in playing

Focus to a student is good grades

And to a preacher is a knowledgeable community

Focus at work is achievement

And focus at home is the best environment

Each one of us is required to focus each day, whether you are a CEO or a child. Look into the eyes of a CEO taking a critical financial decision for the company, then look at the eyes of a child playing a puzzle, trying to fix each piece correctly. The only difference is, you will see stress in ones eyes with focus and happiness in the latter. So day in day out, whenever we day dream or get lost in something else, how many times do you tell yourself, ‘Focus’, ‘You need to focus’.

Difficult, isn’t it? Trust me, even writing one piece requires focus and as long as it takes to focus, it slips away so easily again. There is one beautiful way to build this habit within you. Set out time everyday to do something you love. Be it to read, to watch the sky, watch the clouds, cook, even sleep. How does this help, you may ask. Psychologically, your mind wanders because you don’t like what you are doing, you have too much to do and are overwhelmed, or really feel like doing something, but you don’t have the time to. Well, if you have too much to do, get organized ASAP. Make a checklist, or to do list and start checking off everything you’ve done. Having a list in front of you helps you complete a task timely, and that feeling out ticking it off, it’s beautiful. Now things you don’t have time to do are usually your hobbies, things you love so much, but studying and working consume your life. Balance plays a huge role here. Start with just 15 minutes for yourself. Pick a book and read just one page, you’ll increase gradually. You will never have difficulty on focusing on such tasks, its tuned in your brain as a desirable activity and you will be able to go on and on.

When you are building focus, your developing a habit. And with time, you’ll have also built willpower. Great, isn’t it? This does not happen over night. It takes tons of practice and daily doing. You may feel like procrastinating someday on a task or just sit around, but don’t. That CEO whose eyes you could see focus in did not come in one day, it took years and a lot of persistence to achieve. When you are focused, you will see your end goal and work towards it. And once you achieve it, you will develop a new end goal, and the cycle of achievement will go on just because you are focused.

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Marijuana: The Good, The Bad & The Unknown

By Mohamed Jaffer (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) 

‘Why drink and drive, when you can smoke and fly.’– Bob Marley

The above quote gives us a glimpse of the outcome of smoking Marijuana, and according to Bob Marley, it sure as hell seem like an enthralling ride up in the clouds. Famous pop stars, such as Bob Marley, have occupied their lives with marijuana. It has been used, as a vehicle for achieving euphoria since ancient times and now, the drug has become a heated topic in the US, where sooner or later, the drug will be legalized nationwide. With this being a historic moment we shall look into the good, the bad and the unknown of Marijuana.

History shows that the famous drug was first discovered in China in 2737 BC, where it was used as a powerful medication for rheumatism, gout, malaria and quite ironically, absent-mindedness. The drug then passed on to India, where the local Muslims consumed it for recreational purposes, oddly enough when the Qur’an had banned such items to be consumed.

Further along the way, the drug finally laid rest on to the hands of the English in 1611, and by 1890, hemp, the plant from which Marijuana is produced, was a major cash crop in the southern states. During its first years of fame, the drug’s recreational use was restricted to jazz musicians and Hollywood stars. Slowly with time, the drug became more common amongst low-income earners due to mass production and low prices charged. By the 1960s, it was commonly used by college students and hippies who looked at it as being a symbol of rebellion against authority.

Marijuana – also called weed, ganja, banji, cannabis, blunt, comes from the Indian hemp plant. While most of produces of any plant usually come from the seeds, leaves or stems of a plant, the drug for marijuana on the other hand comes from the flowers of the plant. As a final product, marijuana is usually green, brown or gray in colour. It can be smoked just like a cigarette – where its usually called a joint, or it can be inhaled using a dry pipe or a water pipe called a bong. These two are the most common of the ways Marijuana is consumed.

So what is so extraordinary about Marijuana that’s got the whole world talking about it? While marijuana contains over 400 chemicals in its final produce, it also incorporates a chemical in it that causes the intoxication, or the highness that Bob Marley was talking about, and this is called THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol.

When a person smokes Marijuana, the chemical talked of above, called THC, passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries it to the brain. Up in the brain, the chemical acts on specific brain cell receptors and over activates some parts of the brain, hence giving the high feeling that’s got the whole world going crazy for it. Seems fun right? If this was the only feeling it gave, then it definitely would be. Along with this short term high feeling, Marijuana effects a smoker by changes in mood, difficulty with thinking, impaired memory, hallucinations and so on. One could say that he/she could take a stronger grip of Marijuana after taking a few puffs for a long time. However, the effects are numerous in number, some still unknown to mankind.

Long-term effects of Marijuana vary from person to person. The most common long-term effect witnessed among people is the effect on brain development. A researcher from Duke University conducted a study and proved that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 IQ points between the ages 13 and 38. That’s a worrying statistic considering a rise in Marijuana usage amongst teens in the US.

Despite these effects, there is a loud roar by the public of the US for the drug to be legalized nationwide. As of now, the drug is legalized in some states, with stores being available on every other road that sell legalized marijuana. The main reasoning for this call is the medical aspect of the drug.

Marijuana’s characteristic as a medicine is talked quite a lot about in the news lately and that’s cause it works as a treatment. Proven by scientists, marijuana helps patients who suffer from Glaucoma- a condition where the eye suffers great pressure, which leads the patient to become blind, if left unattended. Marijuana effectively lowers this pressure by increasing blood flow. It could be argued that the cure is not sustainable and lasts for a few hours only, but so long as scientists do not find an alternative cure, patients will continue using Marijuana as it benefits them.

Furthermore, marijuana is also used to decrease the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder called Dravet’s syndrome. A medical study on a 5-year-old girl suffering from the syndrome showed that the drug use had decreased her seizures from 300 a week to just one every seven days. Despite this impressive statistic, it is important to note that not all cases are the same; some have used the drug to no avail. Other benefits that the drug may have include; it may stop cancer from spreading, may decrease anxiety and may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list; various scientists are still testing the drug to see where else could it be beneficial.

It is fair to say that Marijuana has encompassed the three areas quite remarkably. The recreational side of the drug could still be argued as being harmful to the human body, but so long as the drug is of use as a medicine, be it significantly or not, the drug will continue to be in the midst of the common man to be used for pleasure. As time goes by, with mindsets evolving, discoveries being made, cultures becoming more acceptable and people becoming more cautious with the drug, Marijuana could be used for its positive side to cure diseases and save numerous lives of people.


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Hijab for Men

By Mohamedhussein Kara (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
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Over the course of the years, ‘Hijab’ was given numerous definitions. Although each definition has become a topic of concern, it was always associated with women, while ironically, Allah in the Qur’an commands men to observe Hijab before he does to women. That’s right; Islam places the primary responsibility of Hijab on men and not women:

“Tell the believing men to cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof….” – Quran (24:30-31)

Indeed, before he addresses women to conceal their bodies, he warns men to lower their gaze. For some reason, a lot of men seem to think they can simply force a woman to observe Hijab while the Quran is clear, we aren’t allowed to do that at all, the burden of modesty lies with us.

In today’s hyper sexualized society, many of us would much rather ignore the concept of lowering the gaze and glancing inappropriately at females because there is no harm in “just looking” right? Yet, we are not aware of the disastrous effects it can have on our thinking, because it is the seed of desire that leads to deviant behavior, as reported by Prophet Issa. Many of us might believe in lowering our gaze, but there is no denying that this is an aspect of our Hijab most of us still need to perfect.  Even a few unlawful peeks over time can cause us to abandon our modesty and openly start “checking out” girls.

According to psychology, the things our eyes perceive are stored in our memory. These images then slowly accumulate subconsciously over a period of time and slowly lead a person to physically manifest them, hence the alarming rate of youth today getting addicted to pornography, and then cannot help but channel their desires into unlawful manners. These vile acts can be put to an end by avoiding such thoughts and images in the first place – which can be achieved by the lowering of the gaze.

When Zulaikha tried to seduce Prophet Yusuf, she covered an idol nearby. When Prophet Yusuf inquired why, she replied by saying that she did not wish for it to witness her sin. Prophet Yusuf’s response to her encompasses the true essence and serves as the perfect standard for us to judge the immorality of our actions. He said “if you exhibit shyness before a stone that does not see, it is more befitting for me to exhibit shame and modesty before the all-seeing and the one who is aware of everything that is manifest and concealed within me.”

Hijab is a critical Islamic teaching, but it seems like most men forget to apply it first and then blame women for dressing provocatively. Let’s stop obsessing over women and try to reform ourselves first.

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The Need for Celebrating Diversity

By Mohamedali Habib (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) 

As I saunter at a snail’s pace toward the back of the aircraft where my seat is located, I can’t help
but marvel at the diversity of the passengers aboard. Here we all are, from different races,
cultures and nationalities headed toward the same destination on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Everybody aboard the plane has a story; a story that includes shattered dreams, broken
hearts, tragedies and death. A story that includes love, hope, fulfillment of dreams and life. A
story, that if articulated properly could melt the coldest of hearts.

The truth is blatantly obvious; we all share the same story. But human perception is frightfully
narrow. We have built a society where a particular race, nationality or culture is considered
superior to the other. With the recent global political shift in rhetoric that is xenophobic and
nationalistic, I would like to highlight 3 key points that indicate why diversity should be

First and foremost, we have “the bubble burst”. We all love people who have ideas and beliefs
that are similar to ours, but far too often we find ourselves trapped in a bubble. Our progression
as individuals occurs when we are exposed to ideas and beliefs that challenge our foundational
notions of truth, and that allow us to see the world from a different and holistic perspective.

Hereafter we have ‘the novelty rush’. Imagine Celebrating New Year’s Eve like the Spaniards by
having 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to symbolize the 12 lucky months ahead. Imagine
calling your brother a brat because you’re learning Russian and it means brother. New research
led by the University of Edinburgh and published in the scientific journal Nature seems to
indicate that novel experiences boost memory formation. Novel experiences also assist us in
combating hedonic adaptation, which is the phenomenon that describes the fading away of
happiness as a result of experiences becoming repetitive.

My third and final point is the “creative conflict”. Conflict is a life force filled with creative
tension and energy. The interaction of different perspectives and personalities fosters out of the
box thinking which leads to innovative solutions to everyday problems. Diversity of thought
allows us to explore new possibilities hereby acting as a hub for business, cultural and
technological innovation.

Embracing diversity means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

To conclude, when we realize that we all share the same story and we are all headed to the
same destination, we will be able to see past the social constructs of identity and truly embrace
each other for who we are. The words of Mahatma Gandhi over half a century ago applies more
aptly today than ever before: ‘Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of
our civilization.’

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Teen Drug Abuse

By Sayyedah Jaffer (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) 

Teen drug abuse is very common amongst today’s youths. Many of the youths of today’s generations have easy access to different types of drugs which is also causing an effect in their daily lives and their academic life.

Drugs do not have a rightful place in society or school where teens are living in their most formative years. Teens who are drug users or abusers can be identified through their academic performance in school or through their athletic performance after school. For example: a teen who is a drug user will usually skip classes, have lower grades, lack of responsibility to that of a teen who is drug free.

Alcohol is one of the most misused drugs of today and almost readily available everywhere. It can be found at every teen part or dance clubs. The consumption of alcohol causes teens to wake up with a hang over the next day not realizing what they have been up to because of the drowsiness of the alcohol and also missing classes and affecting their academic life.

The real question which comes to every person’s mind is what types of drugs do teens use? Well according to NIDA’s monitoring the future survey – which looks at the different drugs that teens are using, alcohol comes at number one – no guesses there! It is then followed by tobacco and marijuana.

There are currently no federal laws regarding school-based drug testing, however, there are two Supreme Court Cases that grant public schools the authority to conduct drug testing in certain circumstances:

  1. In 1995, the Court ruled that it was legal for schools to randomly test student athletes
  2. In 2002, that ruling was expanded to included students who participate in a competitive extracurricular activity such as a marching band or chess club.

The real question comes to every parent’s mind is that how do they control or stop their children from getting in touch or using drugs.

Therefore, the solution to that is that parents should build a friendship relationship with their children and have a day to day update from the school as to how they child is progressing.

Many parents are busy working fulltime and therefore neglect spending time with their children or even being informed as to who the child goes with or where the child goes in their absence.

Most parents rely everything on school but unfortunately by that time it’s too late. Parents should educate their children about drugs and alcohol before the child even enters in their teens. Always be supportive and involved in your child’s life so as to know everything that your child is doing while being at home or at school. Educate yourselves to watch out for signs if your child has been in contact with drugs or alcohol.

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