Bisma Tirmizi

Bisma Tirmizi

The author lives for the simple pleasures and her musings over a cup of tea almost always find a way to be the written word. She also writes for pakteahouse.net.

I am a Muslim parent in the US and I chose to send my children to a Catholic school

My wonderful nani (maternal grandmother), Jamila Khatoon, was an advocate for missionary schools and hospitals in Pakistan. She would famously say, “Schools and hospitals are best run by the mission.” Resultantly, my mother and her siblings went to missionary schools in Karachi, as did my siblings and I. Why is it that parents, belonging to other faiths, sometimes consciously make a choice to send their kids to a Catholic school? Is it because they feel that faith-based education, regardless of what faith the school believes in, imparts spirituality at a young age that leaves an impact through adult life? I remember putting the ...

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A mother’s dream, an American dream and gold star parents

I am a woman, I am a mother, I am an immigrant, I am a Pakistani-American, I am a Muslim, I live in the swing state of Nevada and I was in the audience this past Saturday when Mr Khizr Khan, the gold-star parent of honourable Captain Humayun Khan, stood at the podium talking to many like me. I was tearing, as was everyone else in the room. A short video about the Khan family rolled on the large screen in the Monet Room, at the Bellagio, Las Vegas (the venue). It seemed like the story of any hardworking immigrant ...

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This is how American Muslims feel about Trump running for president

As a Pakistani growing up in Pakistan, I grew up watching undignified politicians. That was my norm. I trudged along my childhood, wonder years, idealistic teens and 20s, and jaded adulthood, along the lines accepting politicians to be lacking in persona, dignity and honesty. In essence, consenting to the tragedy of a deceitful and corrupt political system, where accusations and the actuality of rigged elections, killing, bullying and being a thug is a badge of honour – in and out of office.  This is unlike the United States (US), where truthiness is considered essential though political lies are rampant, and selective accountability with the appearance ...

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Explaining Bakra Eid to a foreigner: “Why do you people sacrifice animals?”

Bakra Eid and ‘bari’  Eid are the two loving nicknames I used while referring to the feast of sacrifice all of my childhood that I spent in Pakistan, until I moved to the West and realised that people mostly referred to it to as Eidul Azha in this part of the world. I have often been asked by Americans and people from other faiths about the significance of both the Eids, and while Eidul Fitr has been naturally easy to explain, Eidul Azha not so much. Most of us growing up in liberal Muslim households do not educate ourselves, cerebrally, on the philosophy behind the Islamic rituals and practices ...

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Why is Aylan Kurdi’s tragic death satire worthy, Charlie Hebdo?

Writers, journalists, thinkers, authors, poets, the blessed few in the seven billion and counting, are passionate about their opinions. They have commented on the society, its underbelly and the universe that surrounds it, with the global media as their audience. Needless to say, they have been persecuted for it, killed for it, awarded for it, famed for it, but most importantly misunderstood for it, in their passionate zeal and zest to be heard, they have at times crossed all boundaries of right and wrong. Earlier this year, there was an attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris; it was a barbaric and ...

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Why did we have to rely on Brandon Stanton or Kim Driver to portray us positively?

Brandon Stanton has done a great service to Pakistan, but what have you done for your country? Of late, my Facebook newsfeed projected a new Pakistani face every morning, credit Humans of New York (HONY), and a wonderfully fascinating story to go with it. There were moments I sat crying, moments of awe, moments of elation, moments of gratitude to Stanton for projecting to the world an image of Pakistan that is so awesome in its depth, humility, reality, humanity and simplicity. His wrap-up titled ‘A final word on Pakistan’, and the parting shot of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ (seven beautiful little boys) inspired a comment on ...

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Circumcision – a cultural norm or a religious duty?

Some stories leave one with a sense of anxiety. And for me, this was one such story. I got up uneasy after reading it, not really wanting to discuss it, but the writer in me just had to pick up a pen and paper. Should a four-year-old boy be circumcised if the parents have a different opinion on it? A recent case in Boca Raton, Florida, opened the debate on this matter. It makes an interesting case and raises the fundamental question about the rights of parents, and their prerogative to raise their children in their religious traditions. Parents have a right to ...

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Preserving immigrant Islam

As a first-generation Muslim immigrant, I struggle to understand my faith. What must my vision be when imparting true Islamic values to second-generation American Muslim children? What are my values of Islam; peace-loving, tolerant, secular, truthful and community based, yes those are my values. To seek an understanding of second-generation Muslims and their immigrant parents, both struggling to draw a balance between faith and society, I sat down with Muslim American children, scholars and parents, and tried to get a sense of what Islam means to them. Here is what I understood. A professor of Comparative Religions at an East Coast University, Farahnaz ...

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Islam would never allow Farkhunda to be lynched

I sat comfortably on a sofa browsing through Facebook; the ambiance was comfortable as was my state of mind. And then flashed an image of Farkhunda – a video clip recorded of the beating and the burning. I clicked on it, I should not have, but I did, I did, I did. And the realisation that Farkhunda must have hurt, she must have felt agonising pain, she must have screamed, she must have shouted, she must have cried ‘help’, she must have cried ‘murder’, she must have been shocked, she must have been scared, she must have been frightened, she must have known ...

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Pakistan, the Pied Piper to our children

“Everything depends on upbringing.” – Leo Tolstoy Case One My parents always give me what I want, and in the end, I win. I have been giving tantrums since I was born – at least that’s what I have been told. I always wanted something; either it was permission to go to a forbidden place, or permission to hang out with a forbidden person or permission to buy something forbidden. Yes, it was always one thing or the other with me. But somewhere along my years, I should have been stopped by the authority figures called parents, right? Why didn’t my parents ...

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