Stories about extremists

Can we blame the West for thinking of Muslims as they do?

In recent times, religiously motivated terrorism incidents have taken place in the West, from Brussels to New York. Due to these barbaric acts perpetuated by extremists, ordinary Muslims are also facing excessive backlash in Europe as well as in the United States. We, as Muslims, are correct to complain that it is unfair to bracket ordinary Muslims with the extremists, but at the same time we need to understand that our negative reputation is not merely due to organisations like ISIS but also because of our behaviour in general. I am not trying to equate extremist organisations like ISIS with normal and moderate Muslims here, ...

Read Full Post

Revenge of the Worthless is truly worthless

Who is not aware of Jamal Shah’s potential? He is amongst the most creative minds of Pakistan. Shah was involved in cross-border projects back in the 80’s and 90’s. Revenge of the Worthless is Shah’s directorial debut in the Pakistani film industry. This time Shah made his comeback with a highly potent cast including veteran actors Firdaus Jamal and Ayub Khoso. Having said that, there are many things the movie has to offer to its viewers. The plot of Revenge of the Worthless is based on the 2009 Swat insurgency. It shares the story of an upright progressive man Zarak Khan (Jamal Shah), a boy named Gulalai (Abdul Raheem) ...

Read Full Post

Allahu Akbar goes viral for all the wrong reasons

It was 8:31 am on Tuesday, I was tuned into BBC Radio 4 and the wet weather had succeeded in dampening my spirits already. When I arrived at my work car-park, however, I was fortunate enough to find my favourite parking slot open! Grinning at my sheer luck, I started parking my car. It is by default that I remain tuned into BBC Radio 4 whilst driving to and from work; perhaps because I subconsciously imply that BBC is comparatively more amenable to common sense and takes a (mostly) balanced approach to otherwise polarised themes. Yesterday, however, after having parked my car, I reached out for my ...

Read Full Post

India and Pakistan both share the spirit of Bollywood

The recently released Bollywood movie Airlift, based on the evacuation of Indians residing in Kuwait during the Gulf War of 1990, has won much acclaim in both India and Pakistan. Rightfully so, for its brilliant cinematography, outstanding performances by all the artists (especially Akshay Kumar who has steered away from typically playing romantic comedy or action roles) and its excellent screenplay. The tragic scenario of a war zone and how it can take away everything you have is depicted in a heart-rending manner, along with how man’s survival skills are put to the test. The apathy of many politicians and bureaucrats, as ...

Read Full Post

The reality of Pakistan through Brandon Stanton’s lens

While Pakistani fans of Brandon Stanton were posting warm and welcoming comments on the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page, the power of pre-conceived notions and assumptions about Pakistan was evident in the contrasting rude and dismissive comments. Some of them called Pakistan “that wretched country” and threatened to give up on being fans of Brandon if he visited Pakistan. Photo: Screenshot And so it has been. Pakistan, a beautiful country, inhabited by a vibrant nation, is often seen globally as a monolithic entity in which only extremists and bigots live, and where only bad things happen. It is seen as not ...

Read Full Post

Zulfiqar Mirza and his abuse of power

On May 3, 2015, Zulfiqar Mirza marched into a police station, allegedly harassed and bullied a police official and then took along with him a few of the prisoners as he left. Because of this, the police charged him under an anti-terrorism clause and decided to arrest him. As policemen approached his farm house, a whole army of his goons came out to protect Mirza. As a result, he was granted a pre-arrest ‘protective bail’ on May 4th , which was extended to May 9th on Wednesday by the Sindh High Court. According to rumours, the extension has been put in place because ...

Read Full Post

Preserving immigrant Islam

As a first-generation Muslim immigrant, I struggle to understand my faith. What must my vision be when imparting true Islamic values to second-generation American Muslim children? What are my values of Islam; peace-loving, tolerant, secular, truthful and community based, yes those are my values. To seek an understanding of second-generation Muslims and their immigrant parents, both struggling to draw a balance between faith and society, I sat down with Muslim American children, scholars and parents, and tried to get a sense of what Islam means to them. Here is what I understood. A professor of Comparative Religions at an East Coast University, Farahnaz ...

Read Full Post

The five things you got wrong about LUMS

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word LUMS?  Vulgarity, a bunch of pampered kids smoking cigarettes, elite class, narcissists, stuck-up teens, the high fee, the beautiful campus, its state of the art business school, a classic display of modernism? Probably an amalgamation of everything mentioned above. While some of these things are true and some highly exaggerated, a few are outright false. These misconstrued images of LUMS have been imprinted in our minds and I do not see many people questioning them. So I have decided to address these stereotypes about LUMS that have long occupied our ...

Read Full Post

How can we stop our children from being radicalised by extremists?

I ask this question because all around me, our kids are being brainwashed by adults who are scared that Islam will disappear from the world if the younger generation is not trained to kill for the sake of religion. “Dada, you will not go to heaven if you do not keep a beard, Mehroze Khan Chacha told me”. “Nana, you should wear shalwar kameez when you go to the mosque, not jeans and T-shirt, Akmal driver Chacha says so.” “Dadi, you should not watch TV, Allah will punish you for it, our Quran teacher told us.” “Mummy, why don’t you wear a burqa, our Islamiat teacher says your prayers ...

Read Full Post

I agree with Sam Harris and Bill Maher

A few days ago, social media went rife with people praising Ben Affleck. “Batman comes to the rescue” was the general sentiment tweeted by everyone and my friends happily posted the link to the clip from Bill Maher’s show. People were ecstatic that an American, a prominent actor at that, finally stood up for Islam on a highly rated TV show. The clip did not just cause a sensation in Pakistan; it opened a debate online with prominent analysts like Reza Aslan and Fareed Zakaria taking up sides and expressing their opinions. As I thought over what Maher and Sam Harris had said, I found myself ...

Read Full Post