Stories about fundamentalism

Will the real liberal please stand up?

The recently held Karachi Literature Festival 2017 was a hub alright. But a hub of what? What it stands for, ideally, is not just celebrating books and authors, but also to serve as a hub for Pakistan’s beautiful minds that allow critical thinking and are truly progressive. Literature and the arts, on such forums, are designed to allow an open inflow and outflow of thoughts and ideas, and an exchange of not just narrative but also counter narrative. One counterfoil session of the KLF 2017 was introduced as a discussion on conflict-resolution through art and enterprise. One of Pakistan’s well ...

Read Full Post

Is a secular Pakistan the answer to our problems?

And now, since they have nothing better to do, the powers that be have fired another tester round in the sky out of the lame notion of keeping themselves busy in the business. A 17-judges bench headed by chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Nasirul Mulk, contemplated vigorously on Monday as to how Pakistan can be declared a secular state. Some suggested getting it done through the constituent assembly, while others advised to hold a referendum. Going with the definition of secularism, it is defined as, “The separation of government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions ...

Read Full Post

Shut up and listen to the music by Talal and Zoi

Drones, poverty and fundamentalism – these are often the things we hear on the news about Pakistan. But over the last two years, Pakistanis have brought home an Oscar, an Emmy, the Nobel Peace Prize, won second place in the Laugh Factory Funniest Person in the World competition and secured four places in the BBC 100 Women 2014 list. On a smaller scale, Pakistani contribution to local art, literature, fashion and music is everywhere. You just have to look. In Canada, Talal Chaudhry and Zohaib Bakhtyar are one of Toronto’s most talented duos on the electronic music scene. They are gaining international attention with their deep, melodic and ...

Read Full Post

Unity, not uniformity

We tend to accept unity as one of the fundamental guiding principles of Pakistan, without questioning what it means. The oft repeated, and clichéd, political slogan is that we need to unify the country. We all need to come together for Pakistan, but come together to what? Unify to become what? The acceptance of the need for unity as a given truth, without questioning the very meaning of the word itself has led to a perverted understanding of the word. Unity seems to be understood to mean uniformity; a society where dissent is not accepted, any person holding an opinion ...

Read Full Post

‘You listen to music? Oh boy, you’re definitely going to hell!’

“You listen to songs, oh boy! You’re definitely going to hell.” No, this pronouncement was not received by me from an adult, neither from any religious preacher or maulvi, but from my eight-year-old nephew, who looked at me with disgust because he had seen a guitar, a piano and headphones in my room. His words froze me for a moment, not because they seemed harsh but because they came from an eight-year-old, who was taught intolerance towards those who do not seem to be on the right track by the source of his learning. In that moment I stood in shock, having been ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

Banish the CII

In a more civilised society where progress is equated with innovation, technological advancement and competitiveness, the recent ‘suggestions’ put forth by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and its band of brothers would certainly have been political suicide. This ‘advisory’ body – which has remained dormant until its ineptness surfaced – has proved itself to only serve as a control mechanism as to how people should live and conduct their lives, as is the case with all religiously sanctioned forums. The clerics, who constitute the CII, and many of their kind elsewhere, have served one and one purpose only: societal control for self-fulfilment. Because ...

Read Full Post

2012: the year al Qaeda staged a comeback

Somewhere, out there on a dust-ridden road of Somalia a fighter of al Shabab is walking around, Ak-47 clutched in his hands, keeping a lookout for government troops. While hiding in charred and mangled remains of a building in Idlib in Syria, a sniper from Jabahat al-Nusra is calmly scanning the battlefield, looking for Syrian Army troops to show up. Meanwhile somewhere in Mali, a fighter belonging to AQIM (al Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb) stands over the ruins of some destroyed tomb of a saint. Destroyed, because according to the creed he has been taught, worshipping and paying ...

Read Full Post

Maya Khan and the barbaric arrogance of fundamentalism

It is apparently not enough anymore to discriminate against religious minorities in our laws or to attack their houses of worship or places of residence in random, unprovoked acts of violence. People like Maya Khan now want to use the few remaining religious minorities in the country for entertainment too. Many publications have rightly pointed out that the televised conversion of a Hindu man named Sunil to Islam was an act that was incredibly insensitive to religious minorities in a country where forced conversions and abductions are far too common. But I have a far deeper problem with just the ...

Read Full Post