Friday, October 08, 2010

Meluruskan niat, membangun istana abadi

Semua ciptaanNya di dunia akan hilang, hancur dan luluh. Tidak ada yang abadi.

Langit yang megah itu akan tercabik-cabik hingga akhirnya hancur
Bintang-bintang yang membentang hingga jutaan tahun cahaya itu akan gugur satu demi satu, tidak ada yang tersisa
Matahari yang cemerlang itu akan redup kehilangan cahayanya
Gunung-gunung akan hancur luluh bagai kapas yang berterbangan
Bumi akan memuntahkan semua beban yang selama ini tersimpan di dalamnya
Seluruh harta kekayaan yang dikejar oleh manusia akan kembali bersatu dengan tanah
Semua harapan, impian, serta kerja keras akan menjadi kosong tanpa arti…
Kecuali apa yang ditujukan untuk Dia yang Maha abadi.

Beberapa generasi yang lalu ada mereka yang mengejar tahta
Beberapa generasi yang lalu ada mereka yang mengidamkan kenyamanan
Beberapa generasi yang lalu ada mereka yang mengejar kekasih pujaan hatinya
Beberapa generasi yang lalu ada mereka yang bermimpi memiliki rumah idaman
Beberapa generasi yang lalu ada mereka yang bekerja keras demi kesuksesan bisnisnya

Kini mereka telah tiada
Mengetahui kenyataan sesungguhnya
Apa yang menguntungkan dan apa yang sia-sia
Tidak ada yang menemani mereka selain amal dan perbuatan yang telah atau tidak dilakukan

Sesungguhnya keutamaan amal dilihat dari niatnya
Bagi mereka yang beramal dengan niat tahta, kenyamanan, kekasih, rumah, atau kesuksesan bisnisnya, maka itulah yang akan dia peroleh
Keuntungan semu yang akan diikuti oleh kerugian sejati

Beruntunglah mereka yang mampu meluruskan niat hanya untuk Dia Yang Abadi
Berada di dalam kemegahan istana surga
Dengan ketenangan yang tiada akan berakhir

Free options for ANOVA

Recently I have been in need for software capable of statistical analysis doing one way analysis of variance (ANOVA). I need it to check how significant the differences are between gene-expression levels from each organ that were tested. Following ANOVA, a POST HOC analysis using Tukey HSD is also desirable, as it can provide more detailed data.

In my undergraduate years, I only had a short period of interaction with statistical analysis. The program that I used then was SPSS 9.0. In my home country, where the majority of the programs sold are pirated versions, they can be had for ridiculously cheap prices. With weak law enforcement and the inability to purchase, pirated software is the norm in many developing countries. I have just realized the damage of pirated copies on our morality after I went abroad.

Anyway, back to the topic, as I remembered, SPSS 9.0 was a very useful and easy to use program. If I am not mistaken, one way ANOVA is not really that complicated, and can be done manually, but I don’t have the time and patience to re-learn that subject again. Eventually I downloaded the most current SPSS release, SPSS 19. Fortunately, in 15 days after installation, it can be used in full function as a demo. And I was able to conduct ANOVA along with the POST HOC tests with no problem at all. However, the program will stop working after 15 days and needs to be purchased.

In the long run, I will definitely need a statistical analysis program. However, at around 1.000 USD, I assume that SPSS 19 is overkill for me. So I started to look for free alternatives. The first alternative that I bumped into is PSPP (, a very capable program, which is a clone of SPSS minus some bells and whistles. It’s easy to use, can perform ANOVA, but unfortunately, doesn’t have the ability to conduct POST HOC analysis.

So I searched for other programs on the internet. The ones that didn’t work out for me was SOFA (, assistat (, openstat (, and others. They may be able to do the job, but for me the interface was just too difficult, awkward, and most importantly, I failed achieve what I intended. Of course everyone is entitled to a different opinion, and might find those programs OK for their needs.

I finally stumbled upon brightstat ( It’s an online analysis suite which can perform ANOVA along with POST HOC analysis, exactly what I need for analysis of my data. The interface is user friendly and very intuitive. I performed the same analysis which I performed on SPSS 19 and it gave similar results. It even has the option of creating nice looking graphs as well.

SPSS 19 is no doubt a wonderful program for performing statistical analysis, especially due to the fact that it is widely used with abundance of references and tutorials online. However, if statistical analysis is not your main work and only need it as complimentary data, there are many free programs out there that might suite your needs. For me, brightstat coupled with PSPP is more than what I currently need (ANOVA with POST HOC analysis).

*POST HOC analysis: gives information on how significant the differences are between the mean values of each sample.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Being Reminded Through Nature

We are living in an artificial age. An age where our interaction with the natural world is somewhat limited or cut off all together. The objects that we interact with are mostly artificial. We interact with our computers, our mobile phones, our cars, etc. And in many cases, these artificial objects become a barrier for us to truly appreciate the natural world around us.

We become unaware of the sky because of the tall buildings and the air pollution that blocks our views, we become unaware of the grass and soil because of them being covered the streets and roads, and other instances. In fact, the small patch of grass that comes out from the pavement, the only thing natural, often looks unnatural to us.

Each time we see the sky, the sun, whenever the wind blow on our faces, too often do we look at them just as common things that have no significance. We find nothing special about the natural phenomenon due to our disconnectedness with the natural world. We don’t realize that all around us are actually immense blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The sun which gives us light and warmth, the wind that brings water and pollinates the flowers, the air that we breathe as our source of Oxygen, and the many other countless blessings that He has given us.

We even find time to complain about these blessings that He has given us. One example is when we are given rain. Many times we complain about getting wet. While the truth is, we ourselves are water creatures. 80% of our body is made out of water. Yet we fail to show gratitude towards this blessing due to our hardened hearts.

Despite our disconnectedness from them, the truth is, the creations of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala have the potential to be powerful reminders for us. They serve as reminders about His Greatness, and furthermore, reminders about our true destination as human beings.

In the Qur’an, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala makes oaths (swears) by His creations. The sky is one example of this. He swears many times by the sky, indicating that the sky is an amazing and profound creation. The sky is also used as a reminder for the arrogant ones of humanity, where He subhanahu wa ta’ala asks a rhetorical question comparing the immense creation of the sky to the insignificant creation of the human being.

This same sky is also used as a reminder about the true destination of humanity. So where do you think you’re going? “Fa ayna tadzhabuun?” The sky is used to give a vivid description of yaumul qiyaamah, the Day of Judgment. The day when the sky will be torn, will be ripped beyond repair, and will be opened like doors. The day where everyone will harvest the fruits of everything they worked for in life, the good and the bad. It is the day where no one will be cheated and treated unfairly. This day in truth is humanity's REAL destination, despite of all the distractions that we’re immersed in (school, hobbies, careers, and almost everything else).

These powerful reminders that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given to us in the Qur’an should totally change our perception towards the sky. This immense creation that He has placed above us should always make us think and be connected to the reality of things. Every time we see the sky, we should always remember the One who created it. Every time we see the sky, we should always remember that no matter how immense and great it may seem, a day will come where it will be torn and ripped beyond repair. What should even worry us more is the fact that we will have to take responsibility on every single action that we did.

In our nature, we human beings are forgetful creatures. In the Qur’an, one of the names that is used for human beings is al insan. Al insan comes from the word nasia, which literally means to forget. Thus, we need to be constantly reminded about everything, including the most essential things, such as who we really are, what our purpose in life is, and where we will end up (our final destination).

I would like to remind myself first and foremost to raise the awareness towards the amazing natural world. Besides creating a sense of awe and humbleness, thinking and pondering upon the creations through a Qur’anic perspective can serve as powerful everyday reminders that will insyaAllah be beneficial for all of us.