Stories about clerics

Gilgit-Baltistan elections: The nth nail in the coffin of women equality

Religion has deepened its roots into Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) once again, where the Legislative elections are set to be held in June, 2015. The first symptom of this religiosity is the allegations against various party leaders for using mosques and imambargahs as launching platforms for their political activities. The second symptom is the current unanimous decision of a so-called jirga (local council) which bars women to vote, as it would put the religious, cultural and social honour of the region at stake – according to a report by BBC Urdu. The jirga was held in Diamir, one of the seven districts of G-B. Whereas ...

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Is a Muslim scholar allowed to disrespect a woman?

Wow! That was my first reaction when I came across a certain incident making waves on social media, catching the attention of people globally. A gutsy Lebanese female TV host, Rima Karaki, strong-armed her guest, London-based Muslim scholar Hani Al Seba’I, live on air after he told her that it was beneath him to be interviewed by a woman. Being a TV presenter myself, I am very well aware of the fact that no anchor enjoys giving their guest a shut up call. Talk-show hosts are often bound by respect and obligation for their guests because of personal affiliations. It also takes a lot of ...

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One small step for Sheikh al-Khaibari, one giant leap for mankind

Once upon a time, far away, long ago… These are the words with which I was tempted to begin today, before I was told off by a friend for being overly cynical and unable to look at the bright side, the silver lining, the beautiful butterflies that the caterpillars currently infesting my lemon trees will one day become, etcetera. For her sake, I will take optimism by the hand today and see how far the yellow brick road goes. My quest today is to make sense of the latest in absurdity that the glorious Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia has to offer. For ...

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Will we ever hold Aamir Liaquat accountable for spewing hate?

December 25th has always been an important day for Pakistan. It was on December 25th that our founder – Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah – was born. Officially dubbed Jinnah’s day, many celebrate it by remembering Jinnah’s enduring struggle for freedom and equal rights for the minority Muslim community within United India. Jinnah’s selfless struggle was driven by a passionate sense of respect for human freedom and equality. He dreamt of a state where there was no discrimination, one that stood firm on the values of tolerance, acceptance and pluralism. It is well known that Ahmadis played a very prominent role in the creation of ...

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Will Muhammad Shoaib Adil be convicted for blasphemy or will the state save him?

“The clerics tried to attack me at my office and later at the race course police station. The police were very supportive and didn’t let them touch me. Later, they surrounded the race course police station and tried to pressurise the police. Luckily, some of my friends came to my aid and they did whatever they could to make sure I get out of police station safely.” He was freed from the police station in the wee hours of night, when the angry mob had dispersed. That day his life changed and he went into hiding along with his family. ...

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Tempted to commit adultery? Indonesian governor says ‘Go pray!’

Are you afraid that you will be so attracted to the opposite sex that you will forget your vows to your significant other? Are you afraid that your sexual urges will no longer be in your control and if you’re an employer, you will most definitely sexually harass your employees? If yes, it may be time for you to move to Indonesia. A governor in Indonesia has found a cure for adultery – prayer. Apparently, he has never known an adulterer who prays five times a day. Either that or he feels that the longer he keeps men and women on the prayer mat, ...

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Killed for enjoying music? What is the truth?

Kohistan is a settled district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the predominantly non-Pashtun Hazara Division. It stretches to about 7,500 square kilometres on both, the east and west of the Indus River. The population of Kohistan is over 550,000 and the people speak Shina and Kohistani – both of Dardic origin. However, like the controversial video scandal the culture, history and ethnography of Kohistan is a mystery for the common Pakistani. Western Kohistan was a part of Swat-Kohistan in the district of Swat but back in the 70s it was made a separate district as was eastern Kohistan. Interestingly, the Kohistan district has two judicial systems in practice. Western Kohistan is ...

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Why sending bureaucrats’ kids to govt schools won’t work

Would forcing government servants to send their children to public schools help improve the quality of education? While such a populist measure seems well intentioned and simple enough, it betrays our continued ignorance of how education works or at least how it should work. Now don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe that state schools need to be expanded and improved. I believe that schools should be palaces. However, the factors that contribute most to improving the quality of education, measured in terms of examination performance include, the quality of teachers, supportive parents and the financial standing of the student’s household. In ...

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Mumtaz Qadri’s teachers: Of mousetraps, and mouse disposal

The problem with mousetraps is, one needs to pre-plan efficient mouse disposal.Less than two weeks after Mumtaz Qadri murdered Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, the two clerics Qadri said had ‘inspired’ him with their sermons, strolled out of the Rawalpindi Anti Terrorism Court on bail. Since their names hadn’t been mentioned in the Taseer FIR, the lawyer argued, there was no justification for debarring Mufti Hanif Qureshi and Qari Ishtiaq Shah from their… err, day jobs. This time, however, the laws are not at fault. With the Anti Terrorism Act, lawmakers erred on the side of paranoia, rather than just caution. Terrorism, ...

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The truth behind the Basant ruling

The Basant prohibition has been explained officially in terms of foul play by kite flyers who use metallic wire or coat their twine with such preparations that it becomes fatal for the people in the streets who happen to get it on their throats. But the real reason is the clerics’ hatred of the festivity. They campaigned against it calling it a Hindu festival and a pagan ritual. The Muslims, they insisted, must be barred from it. It was on account of this campaign that the prohibition was proclaimed. Hindus revere and worship everything in nature. To them, the stars, the ...

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