Stories published in May, 2015

The price I pay for respecting Islam

Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would become a scholar focusing on Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. Growing up, my passion was playing basketball and following the Boston Celtics. I never had any Muslim friends. In fact, I did not even know a single follower of Islam until my college years. If you had asked me “What is a Muslim?” when I was 16-years-old, I would not be able to answer you. But everything changed when 9/11 happened.  Muslims were seen as “extremists” and Islam was an “evil” force that had to be crushed by “freedom loving people”. When it came time to ...

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“If you want to teach here, you have to wear a burqa”

“You just have to wear a burqa inside the school; you are free to take it off when you leave the school premises,”said the principal of a Karachi-based school while interviewing a candidate. “It’s just a garment,” thought the candidate, and a garment that was helping her get a higher salary than all the other schools. So she signed the teaching contract and took the burqa home with her. All day at home, that burqa in her bag haunted her. How could she don something all day that represented something she hadn’t fully accepted in her heart? Wasn’t she lying to impressionable children? Wasn’t it hypocritical of her ...

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Tomorrowland: A riveting ride into the future, with a twist

Tomorrowland begins with the following line, “This is a story about the future and the future can be scary”. Certainly not what the audience was expecting to hear. The storyline which unfolds compels the viewers to put on their thinking hats in order to piece the puzzle together, while at the same time being awestruck by the brilliant and sleek futuristic world of Tomorrowland, rendered by computer graphics.    Directed by Brad Bird, the movie is set during 1964. However, Tomorrowland is a futuristic place where anyone from that time can enter this realm through a certain process. Frank Walker (George Clooney), full of ...

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The day he took my love away

She never expected her marriage to come to an end. No woman ever does. She distinctly remembers the day she was betrothed and how excited she was. Her mother kept telling her not to smile for she had to make it look like she was genuinely sad about leaving her father’s home, but secretly she was over the moon. He was perfect; good looking, professionally accomplished, lived abroad and came from a good family background, and to top it off, he loved her wholeheartedly. What a beautiful union it was. Everyone was smiling and everything was going to be completely perfect. And yet, here she was ...

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How I tackled the “Sir, I don’t think Shias are real Muslims” concept

I started my career as a Religious Education (RE) teacher in September 2013, in a school that has nearly 1500 students ranging from the ages of 11 to 18. Of these, approximately 75% come from a Muslim background. Due to the comments and vitriol usually directed towards Shias, I chose to hide my identity as a Shia Muslim from my class. If my students ever asked me what ‘type’ of Muslim I was, I never felt the need to tell them that I was Shia. I merely insisted that I was just a Muslim – but they were never satisfied with that ...

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Zehreeli Chummi: The controversial ‘chummas’ Pakistanis need to take

There is one thing that all Pakistanis know about themselves – they can’t stand cartoons or comics. No, I’m not talking about the meek, biscuit or washing detergent company sponsored comics; I’m talking about those that question our beliefs, provoke our preconceived notions about religion, and reveal the corrupt system and politicians. We get so emotional about a drawing that we are willing to destroy our own city, kill our own people and any outsider who comes in our way. It doesn’t matter if he or she had nothing to do with those comics. Photo: Zehreeli Chummi Facebook page We ...

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Why is the shipment of bio-hazardous anthrax being overlooked, United States?

While we were still in the process of recovering from the dumbfounding FIFA fiasco and the horrendous IRS hacking, the odiously toxic news of live samples of anthrax being  shipped ‘mistakenly’ by the Department of Defence (DoD) to different parts of the country and South Korea further contaminated the airwaves. While one cannot stay away from crying bloody murder when such an incident, a rather unforgiving event, occurs, bringing back awful memories of Union Carbide and Chernobyl, Pentagon officials assured people that nothing earth-shaking took place and there were no reports of exposure to the deadly bacteria. “There is no known risk to the general public, and there are no ...

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23 post-exam student reactions, explained through Disney

With final examinations coming to an end, many students are rejoicing over their newly-found freedom. From planning the upcoming vacations to partying hard in their farewells and annual parties, the end of exams has an ecstatic effect on everyone. Being a teacher myself, many varied reactions have come my way from my students and their friends – and some of which have compelled me to put together this post. So, here are the 23 post-exam reactions you would come across from students everywhere, explained via Disney. 1) Uncontrollable joy, over finally getting done with their never-ending coursework Source: Tumblr 2) Bouts ...

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Facebook’s internet.org will not work in Pakistan

Facebook’s internet.org is a well-meaning initiative held back by some crippling flaws. The portal is currently usable only via the Telenor network, and allows free access to a very small number of websites. These are websites such as AccuWeather, Facebook, BBC News, Bing, ESPNCricinfo, OLX, Wikipedia, and more, including health related websites, one of which provides information on pregnancy and child care. Sadly, though not surprisingly, YouTube isn’t on the list. Naughty Goat video fans have also been left in the cold.    At first glance, there are some immediate concerns regarding net neutrality. For the uninitiated, net neutrality is a principle that has been hotly ...

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Spy pigeons: Subcontinent’s version of “biological” warfare

According to a report in The Times of India, Indian authorities have captured a “spy bird”. The bird is believed to be a Pakistani spy and is reportedly being held in “police custody”.  Pigeons from all over Pakistan are expected to begin protests against Pakistan’s silence on this illegal detention of an innocent member of their community. A spokes-pigeon for the community says they are chalking out a plan of action for protests if the foreign office does not ensure release of the captured pigeon within 48 hours. It threatened countrywide wing-jam and boycott of insect killing at first. In the ...

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