Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bakawali Flower

The other day, my sister called me to inform that the Bakawali flowers at her house would be blooming that night.  (She had witnessed the blooms many times before to notice the signs.)

So at about 10.00 p.m. that night I visited her armed with my camera.  It was truly a beautiful sight.
I counted a total of 15 flowers in bloom with many more buds in various stages of development.
As the flower only blooms at night and then only lasts a few hours, many people have never seen it.
Its nocturnal blooming has given rise to many myths and legends about the plant. 
Malaysians of Chinese origin belief that the plant brings good luck and they often tie pieces of red ribbons around each leaf. 
The blooms are a harbinger of good fortune and if the plant wilts or dies it foretells that ill fortune is to follow.
The Malays belief in the presence of a guardian (a nymph or bunian) when the flowers bloom.
I must have been truly lucky to be blessed with the sight of so many blooms all in one night.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Dutchman's PipekardableNight Queen or Gul-e-Bakawali) is a species of cactus and one of the most cultivated species in the genus. It is also referred to as Night blooming Cereus and often confused with species of Selenicereus. (
The plant is widely cultivated all over the world that its origins are quite obscure although Wikipedia does mention its being Sri Lankan in origin. 
Easily cultivated this fast growing plant needs compost containing plenty of humus and sufficient moisture. It can be grown in semi-shade or full sun.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Recently I was at an 'Islamic' bookshop (the type that only sell books relating to Islam, and only by Muslim authors and publishers) and picked up a book on 'Beliefs'.  I was browsing the introduction and immediately put it down as what I understood was that the author was trying to say is that intellect is not important in Islam, as otherwise what is the reason for revelation.  (If he had said that intellect by itself alone is not sufficient I wouldn't have minded, but he said something to the effect that intellect is irrelevant.)

I sometimes wonder if those we generally consider experts on Islam do actually read the Quran and understand it as a practical guide to daily living in these and future times.

I just need to remind myself that the Quran is replete with verses requiring the use of intellect and reasoning, such as these:
Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of the night and day - there are indeed signs for men of understanding.
(AliImran 3:190 - Abdullah Yusof Ali translation)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Avicenna (Ibn Sina) - The Golden Age of Islam

Statue of Ibn Sina at Dushanbe, Tajikstan
(Photo from
The other day, when I was writing my post on Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, I mentioned that medicine has come a long way since Avicenna under the photo of NCSM's Nuclear Medicine Centre sign.

This got me thinking: "Knowledge was almost a monopoly of the Muslims then, while today, Muslims seem to be shy of knowledge, maybe even averse to it."

"What happened between then and now?"

"What can I do?"
An Arabic copy of the Cannon of Medicine dated 1593
(Photo from