Stories about Arabic

In Saudi Arabia, oil will always be thicker than blood

It was the year 2000 and I was a young man studying in Canada. Having spent a majority of my life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for a change, I was enjoying the atmosphere of a country where people weren’t treated with disdain simply because of their nationality. Alas, even in Canada, it was difficult to escape Saudi mentality. I was socialising with a group of Middle Eastern students at a food court where we were all getting to know each other. When asked, I told them I was a Pakistani who had grown up in Saudi Arabia. While ...

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An ‘Islamic Halloween costume’? Really, Walmart?

Dear Walmart, I liked you. I really did. Your prices are decent and I occasionally made a run to you when other stores in the area were closed, because of your late hours of operation. You were convenient and I really liked that about you. However, it came to my attention a couple of days ago that you tried to sell a Halloween costume depicting an ‘old Pashtun Papa’, full with a beige-coloured parthog and kameez, turban and a long fake, grey beard. Photo: Walmart.com Really, Walmart? Tasteless much? I’ve realised that you have now taken down that ‘costume’, apologised, and tried to ...

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Brother, you are from Pakistan and you don’t speak Arabic?

One of the biggest advantages of living abroad is the chance to hear what people think about your country. I have been living in Germany for the last three months and during this short stay, I have made friends from different regions of the world. At first, it appeared mystifying, the fact that everyone that I had met, knew something about Pakistan. It is no surprise that with the ongoing situation in Pakistan, where every day there is horrifying news that in the imagination of people I have come across, Pakistan comes closer to being an aberration. Wishfully, I often think ...

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This Ramazan, develop an attitude of gratitude

As I sit here writing this, I am exuberated with joy that Ramazan is almost here. We, Pakistanis, are always fashionably late; that should explain why we start fasting a day after most other countries do. Anyhow! Personally speaking, Ramazan is my favourite time of the year. A month I exclusively dedicate to my relationship with God, focusing on spiritual growth and reflections. It would be great if every Muslim tried to make a conscious effort in changing some part of their personality that needs to be improved during Ramazan. But unfortunately, it is sad to note how each year this month ...

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Our weapons must not be the reason children in Syria are dying!

I stood underneath the shadow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This grand symbol of the Ottoman legacy rested benevolently amid a vast courtyard filled with lush gardens, sparkling fountains and the excited murmurs of tourists. As I fully absorbed my surroundings, I felt a sudden tug on the hem of my shirt. I looked down to see a child standing in front of me, repeatedly pointing to something he held in his left hand. He was young of age, hardly thirteen-years-old. His worn out clothes and look of utter desperation were enough to betray the fact that he was not ...

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Am I a ‘ganwaar’ if I speak in Punjabi?

Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting children from different parts of Punjab. They ranged in age between three and five years and included children of my friends and extended family. I was pleasantly surprised to hear these kids speaking in Punjabi. Some of the phrases that I recall hearing them use are, “Kithay chalay o?” (Where are you off to?) “Aa ki aey?” (What is this?) “Ki karde paye o?” (What are you doing?) Punjabi is the most widely spoken language across Pakistan. However, from what I have seen, most of the people in Punjab – especially those living in the urban centres – do ...

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When Ramazan became Ramadan: Our infatuation with Arab culture

Come the sighting of the moon and my inbox, cell phone and social media feed is inundated with greetings of ‘Ramadan Kareem Mubarak’. It’s a common phenomenon and I am not the only one to experience this but it does make me think. What has happened in the past couple of decades that we have made the shift from Urdu words to decidedly Arabic ones? If the change was in language as a whole it would make some measure of sense. Languages are of course organic and new words come in but in this case it is not a natural ...

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Zero Dark Thirty: Disgusting misrepresentations and false stereotypes

The hype surrounding the movie Zero Dark Thirty has found space into every conversation; be it in classes or at dinners. Everyone seems to have an opinion about one or the other aspect of it; while some people argue it is a very well made movie, there are many others who view the legitimacy of the plot and implications of the movie very sceptically. Zero Dark Thirty is a historical drama about the CIA’s hunt for the top al Qaeda leaders, primarily Osama bin Laden. The movie has been nominated for five Oscars and is a Hollywood blockbuster. A majority of the ...

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Malaysia’s exquisite mosques

It is always a treat for me to go to mosques in the countries I visit because it reminds me how universal the message of Islam – describing a state of mind where one surrenders or submits to the one Almighty God -truly is.  One of the highlights of my first trip to Malaysia was visiting a number of the country’s beautifully designed and diverse mosques catering to the 60 percent of Malaysia’s 28 million people who are Muslim. Some of the mosques were Ottoman or Arabian influenced in their style, while others boasted traditional Malay architectural designs, some exhibited  modern and ...

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The dilemmas of a Muslim shopper

Over the past couple of weeks my sister was in town,and along with my mother, we spent a good deal of time in shopping malls, taking advantage of discounts during a seasonal sale. Having lost a few pounds in the past couple of months, and after starting a new job in December, I had no qualms about treating myself to some new clothes, shoes, and accessories. Like many women, I find buying new items quite gratifying. This is especially so because in the past two to three years, I managed to work towards having financial freedom for the first time. ...

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