Stories about extremism

Wait, what about Zarb-e-Azb?

This August has been defining and shaping a lot of things for us Pakistani’s, nationally and globally. I, for one, am neither a supporter of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, nor am I a non-supporter. I am just a Pakistani who wants betterment for my country; I don’t care who brings it, but I seek progress. With the long march that has been initiated by Imran Khan, and has resulted in Tahirul Qadri bringing on his own revolution, I feel that there are certain things that need to be analysed carefully. On Saturday, August 16th, 2014, Qadri announced a 48-hour deadline for his 10-point ...

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What would Iqbal think?

On the southern bank of the River Neckar in Heidelberg, Germany, is the Iqbal-Ufer. This street, running parallel to the river, was named in honour of Allama Iqbal, the poet-philosopher from India. It was here that the poet was granted his PhD in philosophy. As I glance at the images of this breathtaking city, I can understand Iqbal’s appreciation for beauty. What amazes me, however, is the depth his poetry plunges into when describing the despairing state of Muslims in India. An eye that is accustomed to beauty, a voice that thrills with eloquence, would shun despair and disillusionment. Yet these ...

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How Islamic is the ISIS?

A recent news story left me utterly shocked and angry. Yesterday, the Islamic State (formerly known as the ISIS), a militant outfit, blew up and levelled one of the most well known and revered shrines in Mosul, Iraq – the resting place of Prophet Younus (AS). The militants blew up the shrine in front of a large number of people. The Islamic State (IS) has razed 15 mosques so far, belonging to both Sunni and Shia sects and, interestingly, this recent destruction of Prophet Younus’s (AS) shrine was done under the supervision of a proclaimed ‘caliph’. In the middle of all this chaos, my questions are ...

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Do you have a Sarah in your house?

Whenever I see her, her eyes haunt me. The sadness in them is unspeakable and the horrors of her life, incomprehensible. She is young and beautiful yet her heart yearns for a minute of peace and happiness. She is Sarah*, a married girl who lives with her in-laws. Sarah married into a family of four sisters where her husband was the only son. The torture began almost immediately. Her three unmarried sisters-in-law cannot stand the very sight of her. They never speak a kind word to her, and always address her with stern and blank expressions on their faces. The very faces that smile ...

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Where did Jinnah’s Pakistan go?

On August 11, 1947, certain words echoed in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan with much emphasis. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”  These words were proudly stated by none other than the founding father of our nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. After 66 years of struggle, sacrifices and long-fought battles to procure democracy in Jinnah’s Pakistan, ...

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If she can walk around in skin-tight clothes, why can’t I wear my veil?

Many people believe that the Islamic veil represents extremism, that it is a symbol of oppressing women. In April 2011, we saw France becoming the first European nation to ban the wearing of the veil in public. Several other countries, like Germany, Italy and Belgium among others, took inspiration from France and passed legislations banning the ‘hijab’. The irony is that even in the so-called Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a few schools forbid the wearing of the veil. Ayman Mobin, a straight A’s student in O/A Levels and now a medicine student at Dow Medical College recalled, “The director of Karachi Grammar School ...

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Once upon a time, in the land of the pure, I was a religious fundamentalist

I have a mantra on life which I wish to share with all of you – ignorance restricts and breeds hatred and extremism, while knowledge liberates and breeds compassion and understanding. Fundamentalism stems from ignorance and thus, only breeds negativity. It is a venomous disease that kills positivity and growth. It needs to be identified and cured, on a very personal level. As a Muslim, who had adopted a fundamentalist approach in his earlier days, I have come a long way by internalising a basic yet painful truth – I do not have all the answers, hence different points of view are not ...

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A mosque named after Mumtaz Qadri? Well done, Pakistan!

I was spending a lazy afternoon lounging in the Osama bin Laden library, bemoaning the dire lack of buildings honouring our local murderers, when my Smartphone informed me of this fascinating new development. I learned of a mosque being erected in Faizabad that is to be named after the man who killed the former governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. The very idea of a mosque, a sacred house of worship, being named after a man who attained his glory by murdering another man in cold blood, may reasonably offend certain people. Certain people like, say, Sherbano Taseer, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Mehreen Zahra, who expressed ...

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My grandmother: The unwanted martyr

Normally, when my friends would tell me how their grandparents passed away, they would speak of ill-health and chronic pain, which one would expect as consequences of old age. I would, however, always keep that information about my grandparents closed off from the rest of the world. It’s a topic of great sensitivity amongst my family and has always been brushed under the carpet by my mother, as a way of preventing tears from streaming down her otherwise stoic face. After all, it’s not particularly straightforward for me to discuss the fact that my maternal grandmother was blown up by a ...

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PPP wants Sindhi Hindus to vote for them, but won’t protect them!

On March 16, 2014, while Pakistan’s Hindu community celebrated Holi, the country witnessed an unpleasant incident in Sindh’s Larkana District, where a frenzied mob turned violent following a rumour that a member of the Hindu community, Sangeet Kumar, 35 – reputed to be a drug addict – had desecrated the Holy Quran. In Larkana, after the incident, people wanted to harm the accused man but the police and rangers, somehow, managed to take him away to a safe location. After his safe escape, however, the angry mob attacked and vandalised the Sindhi Hindus’ dharamshala (community centre) and also partially damaged a Hindu temple in the same ...

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