You might be associated with certain religious beliefs, but your organs are not

If you had a chance to help save lives, would you seek the approval of a religious cleric before doing so? Unfortunately, for a considerably large number of people in our society, the answer is yes. In a recent blog, I urged readers to donate their organs to those in need. In response, many people asked if donating organs was allowed in Islam; a few declared it was not. In a country where people vehemently rely on opinions of religious scholars, it would be naive to expect them to choose rationalism over faith. To promote a culture of organ donation in our country, it is necessary to ...

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Pass your matriculation exam or stay in Karachi jail – your choice

On April 14, 2015, 30 prisoners from Central Jail Karachi took part in the annual matriculation exams organised by the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK). These exams were the first of their kind to be held inside a Pakistani detention centre. They were open to prisoners of all ages; even though the standard age for these exams is 15 to 16 years of age, BSEK kept no age limit for the prisoners. Twenty-one out of 30 prisoners gave Level 1 (class IX) exams, whereas the other nine gave Level 2 (class X) exams; all prisoners except one enrolled themselves for ...

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Can uniform prayer timings in Islamabad bring religious harmony?

The recent news development of Muslim clerics and the Ministry of Religious Affairs agreeing to have uniform prayer timings in Islamabad has been hailed as a positive step forward. While there can be little argument that a step which aims to promote religious harmony is good, it is important that the matter is studied in more detail. Setting conspiracy theories aside, it is common knowledge that the government has taken the recent step to develop some sort of understanding among different Muslim sects, as miniscule as it may seem, and in the process give birth to the idea of coexistence. Disappointingly, however, the ...

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#KashmiriLivesMatter, India

Recent heavy showers led to a flood in River Jhelum because of which Indian-occupied Kashmir has come under the line of fire again, with torrents wreaking havoc throughout the valley. Last year, Kashmir witnessed a similar tragedy – 300 lives were lost, $16 billion worth of infrastructure was destroyed and six million Kashmiris were affected on the whole. It is too early to decide if these floods are worse than their predecessors, but if the people stuck in these areas are not evacuated in time, things might get out of control. During the floods that took place last year, many Kashmiris were of ...

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And the award for the most ridiculous fatwa goes to…

Allegedly, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al Sheikh, recently issued a fatwa that allows starving men to eat their spouses to save their own lives. This will be considered an act of obedience by the wife and her willingness to be one with the husband’s flesh. My initial reaction was laughter at the mufti’s idea to feed starving husbands. It was then followed by disgust at his misogyny and sexism, among other things. Fortunately, now we see reports of a rebuttal. Saudi media is attributing the source of this misreporting to the Iranian media. However, this is not ...

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To save Pakistan, we have to let go of the idea of Pakistan

“We are fighting a fight for Pakistan.” This is an oft repeated statement from politicians, military personnel, bureaucrats and journalists. Let me tell you unequivocally, we are losing the fight for Pakistan. In our attempts to salvage an archaic idea of Pakistan, an idea relegated to the back shelves of the global landscape, we are losing the Pakistan that we have. We will not win this war in North Waziristan, we will not lose this war in Lahore, we will either win or lose this war in the minds of our countrymen. Yes, that is what they are, our countrymen, and every single ...

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“Pakistanis are known for taking shortcuts in life” – True or false?

On April 8, 2015, it was reported that blatant acts of cheating were underway during the yearly SSC-I and II examinations in four districts of the upper Sindh. The examinations were being conducted under Secondary Education, Sukkur (BISE) and the Board of Intermediate, Sindh. It was reported to The Express Tribune that about 210 centres had been placed for the examinations in all the four districts. Out of these 210, 174 had been assigned for male candidates while 36 for female candidates. The report suggested that 27 teams of invigilators confirmed 311 students who had cheated in various examination points while five ...

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Western hypocrisy: Pakistan’s nuclear weapon is a threat but India’s is not?

On April 6, 2015, The New York Times published an editorial titled Nuclear Fears in South Asia. The editorial portrayed Pakistan’s nuclear weapon capability as an ultra-sensitive concern for the global community; however, India’s mighty nuclear quest was exempted from this category, using its vibrant democratic system of governance as a justification. I am still lost over how nuclear safety has anything to do with a system of governance, but oh well. Ever since Pakistan tested its nuclear weapon in 1998, it has become an epicentre of criticism and this debate has seldom gone off the radar in contemporary global affairs. Many international security experts have expressed unnecessary and ...

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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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Will the Judicial Commission be the answer to Imran Khan’s prayers?

With the formation of a Judicial Commission (JC), the ball is now in the Supreme Court’s court. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had reached an agreement over PTI’s longstanding demand of establishing a JC to probe into rigging allegations pertaining to general elections held in 2013. Although it may seem like a victory for PTI, it may turn out to be anything but that. The news of PML-N giving in and agreeing to form a commission as per PTI’s demands implies that the see-saw has tilted Imran Khan’s way. But a thorough perusal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the parties, and the consequent General Elections 2013 Inquiry Commission ...

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