On ringtones and shaving highly emotional facial hair

Published: July 30, 2011

When you realise it’s a 20-something whose phone is letting out those vile, slanderous statements about Munni, you have to wonder what was on his mind when he came to the mosque.

The blasphemy law keeps being cited for reasons beyond understanding. While some cases are indeed based on fact (your personal position on the law itself aside), the majority of them have little more than an iota of religion behind them. Recently, some 30 clerics in Lahore wanted a blasphemy case registered against the population welfare department for offending beards.

The moulvis are apparently still recovering from the threat to facial hair put up by a ghastly event in Karachi last year, when the world’s leading razor-blade manufacturer was forced to cancel “Shave it and Break it”, an event aiming to break the record for most people shaving at the same time and place, currently held by our neighbours to the east. In their fatwa, they argued that mass shaving was an affront to Islam and disrespectful to Islamic Law, comparing it to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons controversy.

So portraying the most important human figure in the second largest religion in the world in hugely offensive ways (an effort to offend simply for the sake of being offensive) is equated with a competition encouraging shaving to get into a record book?

There’s a joke in there somewhere but I’d like to keep my head attached to my body.

That aside, instead of lambasting people for portrayals of beards or inexplicable desires to make use of the best a man can get simultaneously, there’s a much more serious issue that continues to go unaddressed.

Cellphones in mosques

Here’s an idea, why not use this clause from section 298 “…Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person…” to throw everyone who is inconsiderate enough to not turn off their cellphones during Jumaa prayers in jail. After all, there’s a more legitimate argument that those people are either suffering from some form of hearing disability, or are more likely to be too self-absorbed to pay heed to recurring warnings prior to the start of prayer and common courtesy in general.

It’s not that I really care about the phone ringing, ignoring a ringing bell is manageable. I do it every morning. The problem is when you start hearing catchy, often inappropriate songs blaring at high volume because the genius doesn’t know phones can be set on silent (here’s a hint, go to profiles). MP3 ringtones have made it worse since now we get to enjoy soul-cleansing lyrics about Munni’s reputation going down the drain.

There was a time when you knew that the rude ringtone man would be some old guy who didn’t know how his phone worked, an unsurprising thing given the relative lack of tech-savvy possessed by older generations. However, when you realise it’s a 20-something whose phone is letting out those vile, slanderous statements about Munni, you have to wonder what was on his mind when he came to the mosque.

It’s not that I doubt his intentions with regard to praying, it’s just that I really want to know what kind of stress the young man is under that he forgot to set his phone to silent before entering the mosque. After all, you have to do it when you walk into class in university and/or work. Oh wait, nobody does that anymore.

Common courtesy is dead, the only reason nobody realised was because we weren’t courteous enough to care. We complain about people talking on phones while driving and race to answer our own when it rings, we complain about speeders and people breaking traffic signals, then do the same ourselves (get off your high horse and admit it). The most amusing (saddening?) might be when we complain about garbage while simultaneously throwing cigarette butts and various forms of paper and packaging out onto the sidewalks and streets.

Can courtesy be revived? Can Munni’s honour be restored?

Maybe, but I can’t comment on that now, I really have to take this call.

Published in The Express Tribune.

Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

The author is a senior sub-editor on the Islamabad Desk and also reports on diplomatic events. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2080/2334305961_c295ee077a_o.jpg Antebellum

    A good take on where our society is headed.Recommend

  • Mustafa Hassan Malik

    A very cheap approach to a serious matter, ‘ Cell phones in masjid and blasphemy’ huh! talk some sense mr author and the same goes for ET.Recommend

  • Waqar

    I broke my back laughing….. radical article dude :DRecommend

  • Usman Ahmad

    STOP JUDGING PEOPLE!..You’ll end up like them!Recommend

  • Tanoli

    @ waqas asgher
    I saw allmost every mosque door written ” PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL
    PHONES” its dont need that law and please that law is good and we can
    not called muslims ourself unless we love our prophet (pbuh) moer than any
    thing else even more than our parents.Recommend

  • Yawer Amin

    that’s a serious matter but not needing blasphemous law ! we should take care and we do, its my personal observation that 8 out of 10 people care about this and they indeed turn their cell phones off !Recommend

  • Afaq Shaheen

    There must be mechanism in newspaper’s editorial board to check the caliber of article and auther. at this movement after reading it i think this is more important than blasphemy law issue to check before printing that what auther is writing in it.Recommend

  • http://www.linkedin.com/company/sociality-360 Chief Marketing Officer @ Sociality360

    I wanted to rate this 6 out of 5Recommend

  • parvez

    Enjoyed reading this. Very down to earth sensible blog.Recommend

  • http://www.salmanzq.com Salman Qureshi

    haha well written Vaqar. I don’t know whats more hilarious – your article or some of the people’s serious feedback on it :-sRecommend

  • Irshad Khan

    I request the writer to please rewrite such that I can understand what does he want to say and on what subject?Recommend

  • Norwegian Pakistani

    This post cracked me up. You have raised an important issue in the society with humour. Recommend

  • M. Uzair Sukhera

    I think the author has never been on time and place to hear the imam’s important announcement before the prayer to switch off the cell phones. Another important thing that people miss out is that one is supposed to cancel the call if the cell phone is ringing to save other folks of the trouble. Apparently due to lack of knowledge (read superficial and restricted to juma prayer) people think its not allowed to take out the cellphone and kill the tone and they continue tormenting others with their laziness.Recommend

  • tranquil

    LOL at the remarks on “munni’s reputation” . Your article is really well written ; You tackle these minor with humor , sarcasm and just the right amount of seriousness. I wish other writers of The Tribune would learn a thing or two from you before posting their articles here. I’m really disappointed by the quality of articles being posted in the blog section these days.Recommend

  • yousaf

    Mr.HMS and AS I think the author only wanted to say was that we should switch off our phones before we enter the mosque,your anger is beyond me if I am wrong please correct me,also I think ET has done no wrong in printing this blog.as far as your objection is concerned there are very serious matters destroying the fabric of our society like corruption(in various forms) smuggling,ethnic violence,nepotism,deception etc.etc.you may write abuot them this will benifit all of us. Recommend

  • Shahrukh kazmi

    Please man have some sense at least do not support that “shave it and break it” event and for heavens sake Maulvi’s are not always wrong we have made a perception in our minds that what ever they’ll say it will be against west or it will stop us moving forward.And seriously i think now a days its like fashion or its oh so cool to say against a mullah’s or islamization, for godsake people we are muslims don’t do it who ever Firqa we belong to try keep differences to our selves and please i recommend you to go and sit in a dars they don’t talk like people think specially the guy who wrote this article.Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    Hilarious article though Recommend

  • DeadToady

    Hahahaha. Insane, kind of like the incident in Khaled Hosseni’s book, ” A thousand splendid suns”…when an artist got flogged for painting flamingos because their long “naked” legs were indecent…the artist as a result had to paint pants on the flamingos to make them look decent.
    But here’s his retribution…he painted them with water-color so that he can just wash them off when the ruling powers in Afghanistan finally come to see sense.
    I think this is more or less the same story. Hilarious, incredulous and thought-provoking. And by though provoking I mean, I hope people started thinking the same thing I did when i read this….which is..”Really? I mean they can’t be serious”…the absurdity of fundamentalism is getting out of control. Someone should really knock some sense into the minds of these self-righteous, belonging in the asylum, using religion as a weapon, dimwits.
    Before we get condemned for laughing too loudly in public.
    And just for the record…the Taliban has already pulled that one off. And it should happen before the rest of the world decides to wash the water-colors off…and get rid of any credibility that Islam has in the eyes of the people who are ever ready to slander it in the first place.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/379/vaqas-asghar/ Vaqas Asghar

    Satire: the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

    For those who appreciated the fact that this was a satirical piece, thank you.

    For those who took it seriously, why would a sane, rational person wish life imprisonment or death on someone for a ringing phone?

    For those who have been so offended by the subject matter, here is a simple example.
    What gives me the right to say blasphemy laws should be applied to people whose phones keep going off?
    What gives anyone the right to equate shaving, a very much ‘halal’ practice, with the offensive cartoons, or any form of blasphemy?
    Notice how similar the two sentences are? Notice how ridiculous, yet EXTREME the premise of both concepts are?
    Thank you.

    And FYI, i criticised the people who don’t heed the warnings outside mosques and repeated by the molvis, not the molvis, who do regularly (but unsuccessfully) ask people to shut off their phones.Recommend

  • M. Faizan Siddiqui

    @Vaqas: well, giving you the benefit of doubt, let me bring it to your knowledge that shaving facial hairs for Muslim men is “haram”!!! So what do you think the contest should’ve been celebrated by those poor “mullahs”?

    And BTW where does this “…very much halal…” rule came from? :P

    Secondly, assuming you’re a good Muslim, please allow me to suggest you to refrain from mixing religion with humor. This way you’re risking your faith.Recommend

  • Ibrahim

    @M. Faizan Siddiqui:
    Shaving facial hair is 100% halal and I challenge you to prove that it’s haram. Keeping a beard is sunnat yes, but shaving it is not wrong. Please check your facts before arguing.Recommend