Stories about Ashura

Just how predictable is Raees?

Raees is manna for Shah Rukh Khan fans. We watched the film at the posh Metro Cinema but it felt like we were sitting at the erstwhile Novelty in Grant Road. Like Novelty, where movie goers were as unabashedly boisterous as patrons in upper-class cinemas are restrained, the audience at Metro hooted, shrieked and even danced when Khan appeared on the screen for the first time and each time he delivered a punch-line. In Raees, the camera is glued either to Khan’s face or his ripped body. For instance, a Muharram procession in the early minutes of the film is ...

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Gilgit Baltistan: That part of Pakistan where coexistance is a reality

Gilgit Baltistan is one of the most bestowed and beautiful places on our planet. And its people: equally marvellous. I had heard about the tolerance and religious harmony in Gilgit but until recently, I hadn’t seen a practical example of this coexistence that Gilgitis so often boast about. I am sharing this beautiful story for the rest of the Pakistanis, it is one we must all learn from and emulate. In Sunni majority Pakistan, the picturesque territory of Gilgit Baltistan is the only province of Shia majority. As such, the sacred month of Muharram has a special place in the region’s annual calendar. Just days ago, during the commemoration ...

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Mourning is not exclusive to our Shia brothers – I am a Sunni and I mourn in Muharram

This article originally appeared here. I am Sunni. My family is Sunni. We love Abu Bakr (ra), Usman (ra), Umar (ra) and Ali (ra). We believe in their rightly guided caliphates. The Commanders of the Faithful. We believe in Aisha (ra) as the wife of the Prophet (pbuh) and a role model. A Mother of the Faithful. This is our belief. We are not Shia. Being Muslim, we love the Prophet (pbuh) and love all that he loves. For what is beloved to the Prophet (pbuh) is beloved to God. This includes the love for the people he loved. The Prophet (pbuh) loved his wives, his friends, his ...

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Show some respect – Muharram ‘holidays’ are not an opportunity to have fun

It was yet another mid-term exam for the management course and I was filling in my answer sheet at a rapid speed while trying to put forward my best handwriting. Although I was still tired from my hectic schedule in the last couple of days and was feeling a bit tired and drowsy. However, due to the fact that I have been good at rote learning due to my medical school days, the exam proved to be a piece of cake. Frankly, I had it all covered well before the schedule for the exams was announced. As I was handing ...

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What a local from Gilgit-Balitistan thinks of the G-B elections

During a chat with a local, who in his opinion, highlights the major causes and precursors (whether correct or not) of the shift in trend of the traditional voters in Gilgit-Baltistan. It was 10:45am when I received his call, “Doctor sahib, I am outside waiting for you, no one else turned in today.” Askari (name changed), is around 50-years-old and is a van driver from my company. He belongs to the Gilgit-Baltistan area and has characteristic facial features of a Balti. As I stood up, switching off the news being aired, the last few remarks I heard were from Syed Mehdi Shah of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), ...

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How I tackled the “Sir, I don’t think Shias are real Muslims” concept

I started my career as a Religious Education (RE) teacher in September 2013, in a school that has nearly 1500 students ranging from the ages of 11 to 18. Of these, approximately 75% come from a Muslim background. Due to the comments and vitriol usually directed towards Shias, I chose to hide my identity as a Shia Muslim from my class. If my students ever asked me what ‘type’ of Muslim I was, I never felt the need to tell them that I was Shia. I merely insisted that I was just a Muslim – but they were never satisfied with that ...

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I’m Sunni and I went to the 10th Muharram procession in Melbourne!

Pakistan, home to 180 million people, saw another deadly Muharram this year when 57 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Lahore. Each time, short term administrative solutions are followed to bandage the plague of ideological intolerance that has infected us for years. Cities are put under curfew, statements of condemnation floated, promises of fool-proof security made and cellular services blocked for as long the government deems fit. Nothing much has changed since last year, when Raja Bazar in Rawalpindi was gripped by sectarian violence. This religious intolerance and administrative failure is in stark contrast to what I recently experienced in a foreign land. I come from a ...

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No Muharram in Kashmir again – 25 years and counting

I recall attending a brief lecture on international law vividly. A learned professor was making a point on the integration of minorities and how nation states often misuse tools like assimilation, accommodation, tolerance, pluralism and multiculturalism etcetera to coerce minorities into submission. When everything fails to get the desired results, the law and order argument achieves significance and becomes fashionable. This brings me to the issue that has had Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir in a stranglehold for nearly two and a half decades now; the blanket ban on the historic Muharram processions. The argument usually put forth by the Indian ...

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We are all blasphemers

A few days back, as an aftermath of the sectarian violence in Rawalpindi on Ashura last year, I saw a post on a social media site which supported the idea of death by hanging for any act of blasphemy done against Allah (swt), the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his companions (ra) and the Ahle Bayt. There were a lot of comments; emotionally charged Muslims, full with religious fervour, supported and encouraged the motion polishing their imaan. After going through a number of comments, I decided, it was time for me to finally explode. It had been a while since my last backlash on society, religious extremists and particularly anyone ...

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Rawalpindi violence: Where is our humanity?

It has become a recurring story now. The same news stories reappear on our television screens every Muharram, be it the Ashura procession in Karachi a few years ago, to the one in Rawalpindi this year. Every year when Muharram comes about, there is a little voice inside all of us which warns us to expect that religious fundamentalists, in some parts of Pakistan, will try their utter best to ruin a peaceful Ashura procession. And sadly, this voice usually turns out to be correct. I have been fortunate enough to spend some part of my life in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. To me, these joint ...

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