Stories about Allama Iqbal

Today, Jinnah and Allama Iqbal’s noble profession is being held hostage by rogue elements

The practice of law is considered a noble profession in every society, pursued by those for whom reading, writing and interpreting sentences, words and even punctuation marks is second nature. Lawyers breathe life into the sacrosanct Constitution and other legislated statutes, construing them in different ways when presenting their cases before judges. The reverence for legal practice lies precisely within this sophistication. Today, the profession of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal is being held hostage by a few rogue elements that have slowly crept into the system. Misbehaving with judges and locking them up in their chambers is now a ...

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The tales of Karachi’s love for old books

We’ve heard stories about their utilisation plenty of times. You can see exactly where the fingerprints grazed the pages. You can deduce how long it was held by the depth of the finger stains. This is none other than a depiction of an old book. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places too much importance on new books, rather than old ones. Why is it that new things are considered more valuable than old things? There might be a time in the future when books will be published for a specific audience and the physicality of reading material will become extinct. However, there ...

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I think, pray and speak in English, so why should I speak to my children in Urdu?

My twins are almost three-years-old and they can’t speak Urdu, my ‘mother tongue’. They hear it being spoken around the house, and occasionally I may try to converse with them in Urdu but truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. As first-time parents, we did get the infamous lecture that we should only speak to our children in Urdu or else they will never be able to speak the language. People would say, “Don’t worry, they will learn English at school but you must speak to them in Urdu.” The common fear is that our children will drift away from their cultural heritage. Most people believe that language is what will keep our ...

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Destroying Jinnah’s house will not undo the Partition, Mangal Lodha

The sordid saga of ultra-nationalism unfolding in the subcontinent took a new twist this week. The Times of India reports that a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, demanded that Jinnah’s house in Mumbai be demolished and replaced by a centre representing Maharashtra’s culture.  Jinnah’s residence is a mansion in the Malabar Hill area of Mumbai where Mohammad Ali Jinnah resided following his return to India from England in 1936. It continued to be his primary residence till 1944, following which he started transitioning to the Flagstaff House in Karachi where he moved permanently after Partition. Before anything else, let’s dispense one clarification: jingoism ...

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The minority protection bill is both Islamic and constitutional

The Sindh Criminal (Protect of Minorities) Bill 2016, passed by the Sindh Provincial Assembly seeks to outlaw forced conversions. This has led to a backlash from certain quarters, the self-styled thekaydars of Islam in particular, who say that the bill is unconstitutional and unIslamic.  Unfortunately, these people who are agitating against the law have neither an understanding of the constitution nor that of Islam. But then very few people, including I am sad to say our black coat brethren, have any understanding of constitutional law. “Holy Quran and Sunnah are supreme under the Pakistani constitution” they scream. Their reference is to ...

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The Council of Islamic Ideology was never meant to be a permanent body, so why does it still exist?

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) is a constitutional body established under Article 228 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. Given its increasingly obnoxious prescriptions, many in Pakistan are beginning to wonder if it is a good idea to have it in the first place. To this end the Senate Committee on Human Rights has recommended its disbanding recently. There is merit in this recommendation because the CII was never supposed to be a permanent body. It was supposed to give its final report within seven years of its appointment. That final report was presented in December 1996 and ...

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Who was Jinnah, an Islamic cultural relativist or a brown sahib?

There are two bar rooms in the Lahore High Court. One is considered the bar room of left liberals and progressives. The other bar room, much bigger of the two, is the favourite haunt of those with a tinge of religious right wing. The left leaning bar room has a photograph of an emaciated Mr Jinnah in a suit. The other one has a sombre portrait of him in a black sherwani and karakul cap. Next to his portrait is an equally serious portrait of Allama Iqbal.  In a poignant piece for Granta sometime ago New York Times journalist Jane ...

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10 Pakistani women who beat the odds every time

When Allama Iqbal lyrically waxed, “Wujood-e-zan se hai tasveer-e-kainaat mein rang,” (The colours of the universe are there because of the existence of womankind) He was grossly underestimating the effect women have had on the universe; for there’s a lot more to women than just the imparting of colours. Pakistani women have always been beacons of hope and struggle and have been leaving their marks in every field; on national and international grounds. Among all the other lies media feeds the world about Pakistan, our women being incessantly confined to their houses is one raging stereotype. I belong to a family of strong women; none of ...

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Amidst such dismal set of facts, how is Pakistan still existing?

A former CIA official, Kevin Hulbert, recently wrote in his blog for The Cipher Brief, that Pakistan is probably the most dangerous country of the world as it is ripe with threats of terrorism, a failing economy and the fastest growing nuclear arsenal. Once again, sadly, this nation has been put on the map for the most ominous things. Hulbert says, quite dramatically: “The spectre of the sixth largest country in the world being a failed state is a hypothetical catastrophe that would unleash a world of unintended consequences.” Country profiles by organisations such as BBC and HRW have named Pakistan as one of the world’s deadliest countries for ...

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To be or not to be a holiday: The only reason we remember Allama Iqbal?

Many people had been ranting about our shair-e-mashriq (poet of the East) Allama Iqbal rolling in his grave at the (mis)treatment due to the ‘controversy’ over how to celebrate/commemorate/observe his birth anniversary. I, on the other hand, had another vision flitting through my mind’s eye. No, it wasn’t of him holding a pansy in his hand, muttering ‘Pakistan loves me, loves me not’, while plucking at each petal. I could envision him sitting calmly in his chair, legs neatly folded, with a hint of a smug smile on his face, saying, “So you thought you could forget me, eh?” There has been far greater ...

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