Stories about community

From a great writer to a great a leader: How Manto came to terms with Jinnah’s passing

On the 142nd birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah today, a little-known piece by the great Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto is being presented for the time in its original English translation. This piece is part of Manto’s published but uncollected writings that are only recently seeing the light of day. Though there is little or no evidence that the great writer ever met the great leader, this piece – originally published in the Daily ‘Imroz’ just three days after Jinnah’s death in September 1948 – crystallises the raw emotions of a writer in the aftermath of a national tragedy ...

Read Full Post

Why our mosque culture needs to change: An open letter to Masjid Aunties

Dear Masjid Aunties, It’s common for you to undermine people who don’t meet your religious standards, especially in a place of worship. Converts get pulled out of prayer by the arm for not praying with an abaya. Women are publicly shamed and bashed for not wearing the hijab correctly. If someone doesn’t regularly go to the mosque, they’re looked down upon. It’s sad, but it’s a rampant issue in the women’s section of the masjid (mosque). Informing someone about something advised against is fine, but please, do so respectfully. Women at the mosque judge and gossip amongst themselves. This mentality can be ...

Read Full Post

This Ramazan, let’s make sure that converts are as much part of the faith as us

Ramazan and I are old friends. From a young age, mother would always let me stay up well into the night to fold samosas (fried dish with savoury filling) and fatayer (Middle Eastern meat pie) for the next day. For me, Ramazan means sleepy eyes, knowing smiles, and a month of eating on the floor with my family and praying with friends at the mosque I grew up in. More than anything, Ramazan means coming home – back to my community, back to my mama’s kitchen, and back to the One who sustains me. We are the lucky ones, those of us who have those deep traditions to fall ...

Read Full Post

“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?”

“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?” Those are the words of Filzah Sumartono from AWARE – a group dedicated to women’s rights – when she tries to talk about the taboo subject with members of her community. It is astounding that people avoid this topic with a wave of the hand, branding it as a “small cut” especially when the effects of such a procedure can be damaging – both physically and mentally. According to Orchid Project, girls and women can suffer from emotional distress throughout their lives, not to mention having feelings of fear, helplessness, ...

Read Full Post

Karachi is forgiving, it is beautiful and chaotic, it is home

The city of lights: Karachi. Karachi has always been seen as the land of opportunity, the city where dreams come true. Many claim that it is the Dubai of Pakistan; Karachi is where people come with hope and promise, looking for a brighter future. It is a city of contradictions; it’s a blend of cultures, it’s sunrises over Sea View, nights reined by terror, it is so many things all at once. But I didn’t know that until recently. For many people, Karachi is solely represented by the sea. They don’t see the city for all that it has to ...

Read Full Post

Dear PEMRA, why can’t Hamza Ali Abbasi talk about the plight of Ahmadis without being threatened or banned?

Pakistan is the land of topsy-turvy, where the righteous are punished and the wrongdoers thrive. In what is a thoroughly perplexing decision, The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) imposed a ban on Hamza Ali Abbasi’s Ramazan program. What was his crime? To open a dialog on his show on the plight of one of the most viciously persecuted minorities in Pakistan, the Ahmadis. Not a few days ago, Hamza Ali Abbasi asked why Ahmadis were treated so poorly in the country and why we were so afraid to talk about it: “The community is being suppressed but if you talk about it, ...

Read Full Post

We lack the wisdom to raise our sons the way we raise our daughters

Before our son Kareem was born, my wife Priya, my daughter Madina and I were on a flight and we ended up sitting next to a woman who was expecting her first child. I sat in the middle seat between Priya and the expecting woman while the two of them discussed things only an expecting mother could discuss with another mother. At one point we asked if she knew the gender of her baby and she said, “A boy thankfully. I am so relieved.” As she went on to explain why she’s relieved, she said having a girl would be a lot more ...

Read Full Post

So last week we went to the Karachi Eat Food Court at the Frere Mall

As a city, Karachi yearns for entertainment. Unfortunately, the only entertainment we seem to think of in this part of the country surrounds itself around food. Now, no one’s saying food is a bad thing – I mean being a Karachiite automatically means you are an inherent foodie. But when you combine food and a festival together, your expectations automatically rise. Since the past two years, Karachi has been hosting what is called the Karachi Eat Food Festival. This consists of lots of different (already established) restaurants coming together in a big beautiful lawn at Frere Hall, with a stage ...

Read Full Post

Our reliance on Maulvis has made religion a business

On December 16, 2015, the nation observed the first death anniversary of the APS attack victims. Right now, the country is reeling from the attack on Bacha Khan University. We have suffered multiple disastrous assaults, yet the government remains unconcerned. It still has not taken any concrete steps to implement the National Action Plan. Various measures had been taken to combat the likelihood of another attack. Security had been beefed up, children had been trained on how to react, school timings had been changed and special instructions were delivered. But these were interim and private measures. Has the government taken any long-term measures to address ...

Read Full Post

There is no difference between Christmas and Eid

Tis’ the season to be jolly! December always comes with great tidings; winter chills, hot chocolate, numerous holidays and an opportunity to make new resolutions. And along all this, it also brings the joyful day of Christmas. This day is an embodiment of religious beliefs, which celebrates a miraculous event and a time of togetherness. Two billion Christians all over the world celebrate this day with great spirit and felicity. As a child, the idea of Christmas for me was all about decorating Christmas trees, receiving presents and Santa stuffing himself down a chimney. I used to be most excited about meeting Santa ...

Read Full Post