Author Archives: Lutfi

How To Retrieve Blocked Gmail Attachments

If you’re like me, then you constantly find yourself sending email attachments to yourself as a mode of backup for miscellaneous files. And if you use Gmail, there will be instances when you can’t retrieve those attachments because Gmail blocks downloads of potentially harmful files.

Though Gmail does prevent you from attaching those potentially harmful files (like *.exe) to begin with, they do manage to slip past the upload scan at times, especially if they’re compressed. This is fine so long as you’re still able to download them, but sadly that isn’t always the case.

So what do you do when you need to download a backup file that Gmail has blocked you from downloading, and you’ve lost the original? Luckily, there is a workaround and all is not lost. I will demonstrate with an example below, where I needed to retrieve a *.rar file that contained an executable file.


1. Firstly, download Python v3.4.2 from here. Once you’ve downloaded the file, install the program by running the file and following the on screen instructions.


2. Open your email, and click on Show original from the drop-down menu.


3. A pop-up will appear with what appears to be garbled text. This is actually your email and attachment as a text file, encoded in base64. We will use a Python script to convert it back to binary. Copy the entire text to clipboard (Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C).


4. Paste it in a text file and save it with any generic name ending in *.txt.


5. Do the same for the script file, copy the script below:

6. Paste it in a text file.


7. Save it in the same folder with any generic name ending in *.py and Python should automatically recognise it as a Python script. If you can’t modify the file extension, you have to unhide known file extensions in Windows Explorer.


8. Run the Python script, and press Enter when prompted.


9. Depending on the file size, the attachment should appear immediately in the same location as the script and text file.


That’s it. The script works with Python 3.4.2 and can process multiple files and warns before overwriting anything.

Credits to Stefan for providing the script.

The Tan Sri

A few days ago, I attended a tahlil arwah at a neighbours place. As my family had relatively recently moved into the neighbourhood, I was still unacquainted with most of my neighbours. All I knew was that many of them were high ranking officials and accomplished people in society. It was the first time I had attended a majlis with such a large cross-section of society, with everyone from a Menteri, to a pilot, to an actress, in the jemaah. Among them were many Dato’s, Dato’ Seris and one of them was even a Tan Sri, so I heard.

After the majlis ended, I found myself like a fish out of water amongst the crowd, who were much more senior than I was, so I quietly slipped out of the hall and minded my own business in a secluded part of the house. I kept to myself as the night went by, admiring the sky alone by the verandah. It wasn’t long before I was approached by a man, who was wandering the perimeters of the house. He was clearly much older than everyone else I had seen that night. He had a pleasant look about him and was smiling when he noticed I saw him. He greeted me and asked me who I was. I happily introduced myself and returned the question, to which he associated himself in relation to the deceased.

Surprisingly, we talked for more than a while, with occasional smiles and nods in between. The man had obviously managed to find common ground between us to result in our fruitful exchange. Despite him being seemingly nearly thrice my age, the conversation carried didn’t seem forced, it was so natural. He was such an amiable person, and I was glad we talked.

Later that night, I inquired to my mom about this particular man. My mom told me that he was the Tan Sri she had mentioned to me previously, the most decorated man at the event that night. I was quite shocked and later settled with guilt, as I recalled asking him to introduce himself to me, when he obviously did not require any introduction from anyone else!

MasyaAllah, such a humbling experience, to meet such a humble man. I suppose it’s no wonder he’s a Tan Sri, a very agreeable person indeed. May his elevation in the akhirah be matched by his gradation in the dunia!

The Malays

It’s really quite astounding how much literature we have on the Malays. The Malays were both glorified and vilified as a people in history. Here are some snippets of those recordings.

Compare this:

“The intellect of the Malay race seems rather deficient. They are incapable of anything beyond the simplest combinations of ideas, and have little taste or energy for the acquirement of knowledge. Their civilization, such as it is, does not seem to be indigenous, as it is entirely confined to those nations who have been converted to the Mahometan or Brahminical religions.” – Alfred Russel Wallace. (1869). The Malay Archipelago.

“Frank Swettenham, in his book British Malaya described the Malays as a ‘shy and reserved race’ who were ‘inherently lazy’, with ‘no stomach for really hard and continuous work..’. The typical Malay was ‘hospitable, generous, extravagant, a gambler, a coxcomb…’. He was ‘Nature’s Gentleman’, blessed with singular dignity and good manners but fickle, indolent and, to borrow a phrase from Kipling’s poem ‘Recessional’, ‘a lesser breed without the Law’. – Christopher Hale. (2013). Massacre in Malaya.

To this:

“Only a few months ago there died in Perak a man who cannot be replaced. He was the Raja Muda, the cousin and natural successor of the Sultan. He cannot be replaced because he was in the prime of life, of fine character, experienced in all the affairs of State, able, energetic, just and high-principled, honoured and loved by his countrymen, and deeply respected by all Europeans who were fortunate enough to know him. It will be necessary to go to another generation to find a Raja Muda; the choice is not large, and men of the type of the late Raja Musa are rare. His loss will be keenly felt by the Sultan of Perak, who himself stands for all that is best in the Malay ruling class. Sultan Idris has all the qualities possessed by his cousin with a higher intelligence, a wider experience, and while Raja Musa was shy and retiring, the Sultan has great charm of manner and is a fluent speaker. The Sultan is a very earnest Muhammadan, without a trace of bigotry, and he is recognized as a high authority on questions of Muhammadan law and religion. In all the Malay States there is no one who, by his authority, influence, and direct assistance has done so much to promote the success of the new system of administration as Sultan Idris, on whom the Prince of Wales conferred the Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George, when His Royal Highness visited Singapore on the memorable colonial tour of 1901.” – Frank Swettenham. (1906). British Malaya.

“The Malays, like many other peoples in history, were not idlers. Their activities in farming, industry, trade, commerce, war, and government are recorded in history. Only after the arrival of the Portuguese did the Malay merchant class decline. The Indians and Chinese immigrants were ensnared in the colonial capitalist system of production; the bulk of them remained coolies. Only a handful of them like Yap Ah Loi became successful capitalists. The immigrant coolies were left in their illiterate, backward state. They were used merely as a tool, “a mule among the nations”. The Malay refusal at the time to be exploited as “a mule among the nations”, was a rational and sound response. They attended to their own work in their own areas of interest. The accusation of indolence was merely a veiled resentment against Malay unwillingness to become a tool for enriching colonial planters.” – Syed Hussein Alatas. (1977). The Myth of the Lazy Native.

Who’s that girl? What’s her name?


I’ve always suspected that my sister was an undercover superhero. I just couldn’t prove it all these years, until now. I recently stumbled upon some compelling evidence to support my claim. See what she left unattended? And according to her job description, she is trained to dodge bombs (really), go in and out of high security installations (no joke) and do other superhero stuff. Plus when confronted at the end of the week on what she’s been up to at work she says evasively, “Saving the world before bedtime.” I now have every reason to believe she is a Powerpuff Girl. Question is, which one? *squints eyes suspiciously*

Who’s that girl? What’s her name? Is she cool? Is she lame? – Pepper Ann

Proximity Can Be A Veil

I just found out that in terms of genealogical proximity regarding the ‘Alawiyun of the Hadhramaut, the Al-Haddads are superior to that of Al-Attas’ to the Prophet’s bloodline. This was related to me by my uncle, who is an Irshadi of the Hadhramaut (my paternal side, hence so am I). I’m currently reading ‘The Hadrami Awakening‘ by Natalie Mobini-Kesheh, which I find quite fascinating.

Famous Hadhramis in the Nusantara include Syed Mashhur bin Muhammad Al-Shahab more famously known as Syarif Masahor (a past warrior who commanded the loyalty of the Kanowit people in the resistance against the Brookes) and the contemporaries Tan Sri Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas (a profoundly influential philosopher with a large global following) and Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary (a wealthy merchant with diverse businesses in and around the Malay archipelago).

I would really like to get my hands on the book ‘Graves of Tarim‘ by Engseng Ho.

“Proximity can be a veil. How many Meccans have not performed Hajj because it’s just there?” – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Our Own Sir Peter Jackson


I recall a few years ago, after receiving an outstanding straight As for his SPM results, my brother was asked what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Because he passed with flying colours, he was offered to do many things, by many parties, though none of them was what he really wanted to do. Medicine? Engineering? Law? The world was his oyster. Faced with the decision to either follow the crowd and do as others do, or chart his own future into the unknown, he decided on the latter, though he received countless “advice” from naysayers to persuade him otherwise. It was difficult because the offers elsewhere were tempting, what with full scholarships, studying in a foreign country and whatnot. After standing his ground and persevering through with his passion in Film Making, he has received accolades for his abilities and is already carving a name for himself. And today, he is featured in the papers for just that. Alhamdulillah, I’m so proud of him. Luqman, this one’s for you lil bro.

The Earliest Qur’an Manuscript


The earliest surviving Qur’an manuscript known to man (written circa 650-670 CE) is now downloadable to your laptop or smartphone in just under 40MB. I’m not sure how this makes me feel. From what we know of our tradition, this monumental piece of scripture must have been put together painstakingly by the companions of The Prophet (SAW) soon after his death. It’s also possible that this is one of the standard canonical Qur’ans assembled by the codex committee headed by Sayyidina Zayd ibn Thabit (RA) and commissioned under the orders of the Caliph Sayyidina Uthman ibn Affan (RA). MasyaAllah!

To view and/or download, click here.

A Qur’an written over the Qur’an – why making the effort?

The manuscript of the Qur’an presented here is a very special case. It is a palimpsest, a page whose script has been completely washed off and has again been written upon. After some time the first layer reappeared and can be discerned, somewhat faded, beneath the second layer. It was probably produced not more than a few decades after the death of the prophet Muhammad in 632 and is considered one of the earliest textual witnesses of the Qur’an. At first glance the fact that both layers contain parts of the Qur’an, that is, parts of one and the same text, is highly astonishing. The question is: for what reason did someone wash off a text, only to overwrite it with the same text, using more or less the same style of script?


A palimpsest Qur’an

The palimpsest, of which roughly three dozen fragments have survived, was discovered in 1972 during restoration works on the western wall of the Great Mosque of Sanaa. The chamber in which it had been deposited together with 40,000 other manuscript fragments of the Qur’an seems to have functioned as a kind of storeroom, because one did not dare to throw away religious texts – a practice which can also be found in Judaism.

Among the other fragments of the trove, which are of great importance for Qur’anic studies, the palimpsest takes an exceptional position. That both layers contain parts of the same text is remarkable, and equally interesting is the fact that they are written in the same type of script. This last point indicates that both layers must have originated within a relatively short time interval. This phenomenon can be explained by taking into account the historical context. The rapid expansion of the Islamic Empire after the death of the Prophet Muhammad led to disputes about the exact wording of the Qur’an, because the experts who were scattered over vast areas remembered things differently. Faced with this situation of growing divergences, Caliph Uthman (r. 644-656) – as much is reported by Islamic sources – eventually selected a group of men who where entrusted with the task of reconstructing the authentic wording of the revelation, using all oral and written testimonies that had survived as a basis for this work. The result was an official standard text, the so-called canonical version, and all other prevalent deviating versions were ordered to be destroyed – an order that was not in every place complied with immediately or without resistance.


Original version and graphical reconstruction of the lower layer (detail of fol. 23r). The strong curvature of the lines of the washed-off script that can be particularly observed in the lower part of the page could be a result of the remanufacturing process of the parchment in preparation for the new writing.

But how is the “Qur’an written over the Qur’an” concerned by this? A closer look at the lower layer reveals significant deviations from the uthmanic standard version (which, however, do not change much of the meaning of the text). Hence it is very likely that we have here a precanonical version of the Qur’an that in consequence of the event of the uthmanic redaction had become undesirable and was therefore extinguished. Producing such a manuscript containing a non-official version after the standardization under Uthman is highly improbable. The more so, as already the material value shows that it must have been an expensive specimen. To produce a complete copy of the Qur’an of this size, the skin of more than 200 animals, presumably sheep or goats, would have been needed! This also seems to be one reason why the “old” manuscript had not simply been thrown away: by preparing the pages and rewriting them in the now official version the expensive parchment could be preserved. This makes the palimpsest Qur’an from Sanaa a witness of a significant event in the history of Islam: the final redaction of the Qur’an text.

But not only as such the palimpsest is of great importance. Given the early origin of both layers and given the fact, that the physical conditions reveal their relative chronological order beyond doubt, this manuscript allows valuable insights into the development of the Arabic script and orthography, the dating of manuscripts by comparing the features of different scripts and the production and ornamentation of Qur’an manuscripts in the 7th century.

The rarity and significance of this manuscript are also reflected by its monetary value. Four pages somehow made their way to western auction houses and the last of them – sold in 2008 at Christie’s – broke the world auction record for any Islamic manuscript by fetching the amazing sum of £2,484,500! This even earned it a mention in the British magazine Country Life, that is dedicated to the auctioning and sale of English country houses and, this is noteworthy, some of them are cheaper to buy than the palimpsest page.

Text by Hadiya Gurtmann
© for all pictures: DATI / Ch. Robin & H. Gurtmann / BBAW Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften
Source: Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC)