Stories about Jews

96 children from three fathers because birth control is a “heinous sin” – do you understand what’s happening, Pakistan?

When I read about Gulzar Khan, Mastan Khan Wazir and Jan Mohammed, the three Pakistanis that fathered 96 children, I was reminded of a man in our neighbourhood who had 17 children (from one wife) in the 1960s. Most men in those days had six children, though one sometimes did come across couples with 10 or 11. In fact, I know a few even today who have nine or 10 offspring. Now these are not average illiterate Pakistanis. Some of them are engineers and doctors; one is a chartered accountant, while the rest are executives in banks and offices. If you ask them why ...

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Is Rumi an anti-dote for the post-truth America?

On January 5, 2017, the New Yorker published an article with a revealing title: “The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi.” Rozina Ali—who is also the editorial staff of the magazine—raised an interesting issue: that in the West, Rumi, the 13th-century poet and scholar, is “typically referred to as a mystic, a saint, an enlightened man” but “less frequently described as a Muslim.”  Ali’s contention is that Rumi’s poetry has been decoupled by his English translators from its Islamic context, and that way they have effaced “historical dynamism” within the Muslim scholarship. Because “Rumi’s works reflected a broader push and pull between ...

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Jinnah was not Iqbal’s first choice to lead the Muslims

To say Allama Muhammad Iqbal was an extremely complex individual is an understatement. The poet, philosopher and political thinker that Allama Iqbal was, he constantly evolved, or some might argue, regressed in his approach to the idea of a Muslim political identity and how it translated politically. Iqbal was, at various times, a Muslim modernist (he endorsed the founding of secular Turkish republic as a seminal event in Islamic history), a Muslim reformer (his lectures compiled as the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam show the breadth of his reformist vision) and an uncompromising Islamist believing in theological unity and ...

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Trump is president. Now what?

On the morning of the Election Day, November 8, 2016, while driving to work into the District of Columbia, I stopped my car to take a good look at the Washington Monument as it stood in all its majesty with the sun rising in the background. This was obviously not the first time that I admired the famous landmark. I’ve been a local ever since I moved to the US as a budding young man. I love being here and cherish the history and the cultural vibe that one draws from the high literacy and multi-cultural enlightened environment. Well, by nightfall ...

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A green passport in my hand and wanderlust in my heart

Imagine this: a Pakistani female, a backpack, and a trip across Europe. As a child, I saw the Bosnian war unfold. I played with the Bosnian refugees in the infamous Japanese park in Islamabad. I was infatuated by the country and its people, yet it always remained a sort of enigma for me. Years later, I am back in Europe and ready to backpack through Bosnia. The city of Mostar. I had saved money and decided that the Balkans would be my last stop before heading home. There are no direct flights into Bosnia, so I had to land ...

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Bacon greased bullets? Really, America?

As I write these lines, I’m in the middle of mourning the loss of my friend, Jim – a fine gentleman, who, as a young man, fled Robert Mugabe’s brutal Zimbabwe and took refuge in the United States. Like millions of others, Jim regarded America his home, the same America that despite all its fallacies and futilities remains, with malice toward none, the greatest country on earth. You must be wondering why I am bringing up a friend’s passing away in a political conversation. You see, in order to connect the dots of the anomalies that surround us, one must ...

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Will rebranding Christians make their lives any easier in Pakistan?

“Pakistan’s Christians will now be respectably called ‘Masihi.’ National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has issued orders regarding use of Masihi for Christians instead of Esaayi, in the column for Religion.” Pakistani Christians had been seeking rebranding for quite some time. “The Urdu ‘Isai’ (derived from ‘Esa’, the Arabic word for ‘Jesus’ used in the Qur’an) now carries strong overtones (of) ‘unclean’ demeaning occupations. This use of language feeds the narrative which makes Christians feel like second-class citizens in today’s society.  On October 8, 2015 in Lahore, more than 500 Muslim students took an oath that they would not call Christians ‘Esaayi,’ but would ...

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Donald Trump as US president would trump rationality and tolerance

The distinction between the religious right-of-centre and the loony religious right is more pronounced in the west as compared to India and Pakistan, where the difference is usually a blur. An example of this is David Cameron referring to anti-Muslim bigots engaging in violent hate crimes. He said this amounts to them being no different to jihadists. The conventional interpretation about endorsing a holy war against evils within oneself or an armed struggle in case of violation of one’s rights against the specific aggressors only after peaceful modes of conflict resolution have now been exhausted. Furthermore, former Muslims’ endorsing violent interpretations should not ...

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The lost Jewish history of Rawalpindi

While roaming the streets of Babu Mohallah, one singles out this old yellow building with its distinct features. The abundance of old and new buildings of Nishtar Street fails to overshadow the tall, three story building with peculiar texture and strong colonial features. What makes this old yellowish facade even more intriguing is the Star of David’s situated on its top that have survived almost a century despite the predisposed hatred and revulsion. The building, former coal centre and the present Rehman Manzil, is the only intact Jewish architecture in Rawalpindi.  Rawalpindi, a 1000 BC historical city, General Headquarters of Pakistan ...

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Muslims and Christians are more similar than you think

Recently, a professor at Wheaton College in the US was put on ‘administrative leave’ after she donned a hijab to show her solidarity with Muslims and expressed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Wheaton College is an Evangelical Christian institution which holds firmly to fundamentals of the Evangelical church. The Statement of Faith of Wheaton College defines Evangelical belief in God as, “WE BELIEVE in one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons: the everlasting Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life; and we believe that God created the Heavens and the ...

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