Stories about Hajj

When a reluctant hajji went for hajj

“Beta hum is saal hajj par zaroor jaen gai!” (We will definitely go for hajj this year!) This was my mother’s constant iteration since the beginning of 2019. Each time she would say this, I would inwardly cringe and make a silent prayer for this to not happen. I had heard hajj was difficult and some sort of a spiritual feeling was required from within. I didn’t possess even the slightest hint of the latter. Despite praying so much for it to be called off, on August 5, 2019, I found myself entering the Islamabad airport. Since everyone on my flight was a ...

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Why I wanted to abort my baby

The facade of life; how extraordinarily amazing yet deceiving. A dear friend, living an apparently ideal life shares her story: I had a love marriage, and since this is looked down upon in general, we faced a lot of opposition from both our families and friends. This eventually led to a lot of resentment, and my once beloved husband forgot that he fought so hard to have me in his life and let everyone mistreat me, so much so that I myself was not sure if love really existed between us anymore. Three years and two kids later, a girl and ...

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Is it necessary for animal sacrifice to take place in homes?

The year was 1348. A mysterious disease broke out, killing up to 60% of the people of Europe. It is estimated that a third of the world’s population had succumbed to the disease. Some estimates are that more than a 100 million people perished. The disease was called the Black Death, which was caused by the bites of fleas carrying the microbe from infected rats to humans. The plague was so lethal that those who came in contact with the sick were themselves infected and died within a few days. According to those who survived, citizens avoided one another, neighbours stopped talking to each ...

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Dear (ir)responsible Pakistani media, the Mina tragedy needed sensitivity not sensationalism

The tragic stampede in Mina during the recent Hajj and the way it was covered by the media, mainstream as well as social, once again revealed all that is wrong in the way journalism is practiced in Pakistan. Media stirred the pot with the ingredients of sensationalism, conspiracy theories, misinformation, disinformation and deliberate biases. This was all based on a historical baggage, and the offering served was such a mish-mash that it became difficult to sift fact from fiction. Yes, it was a developing story. In fact, it was not just a ‘story’, but it was a tragic human event that demanded sensitive handling, ...

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Reza Aslan versus Bill Maher: Learning the crucial difference between culture and religion

Responsible schooling, governance, international diplomacy, accountability and conscientious citizens are the demands of modern society. However, popular media despite its presence in every home, remains the most ignorant, irresponsible and manipulative aspect of modern life. With its capacity to communicate instantly, the world with its current atmosphere of extremism, global stress and social and political upheavals is more open to suggestions in a way it was never before. Therefore, manipulation by entities with access to an audience has wider influence than before. Labels are among the pithiest vehicles of language. They appeal most strongly to unthinking individuals, starting with those of all faiths in the pulpit ...

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Explaining Bakra Eid to a foreigner: “Why do you people sacrifice animals?”

Bakra Eid and ‘bari’  Eid are the two loving nicknames I used while referring to the feast of sacrifice all of my childhood that I spent in Pakistan, until I moved to the West and realised that people mostly referred to it to as Eidul Azha in this part of the world. I have often been asked by Americans and people from other faiths about the significance of both the Eids, and while Eidul Fitr has been naturally easy to explain, Eidul Azha not so much. Most of us growing up in liberal Muslim households do not educate ourselves, cerebrally, on the philosophy behind the Islamic rituals and practices ...

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This Morroccan tagine and 2-minute bread pudding will have you wishing this Eid lasts forever

Hajj for most, as they say, is a life changing experience.  And I can vouch for this myself as well. Four years ago, when Mr A and I decided to venture for this concrete  pillar, we realised how it was  a combination of all the other pillars together, where you believe in Tauheed (oneness of Allah), perform salah (prayer), fasting and zakat (charity) in some form or the other. With all the blessings, tears, inner resolve and strength, our 10-day trip was not without its frivolities. It was certainly a life changing experience when Mr A and I in full ...

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Saudi Arabia, building 200 mosques will not help the refugee crisis

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in all its benevolent wisdom, has come to the aid of the Middle Eastern refugees lining up on the gates of Germany, by offering to build 200 mosques in the European nation. Yes, this is exactly what these traumatised people need after losing their homes, resources, family members, dignity, and mental and physical well-being – mosques. Indeed, for those so inclined, it is important for pious refugees to have a place to practice faith, especially in a foreign land where religion can help them feel grounded, but only after achieving stability in their lives. For Saudi Arabia to offer ...

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Would Malcolm X have denounced Obama’s imperial adventures in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

“The house Negro usually lived close to his master. He dressed like his master. He wore his master’s second-hand clothes. He ate the food that his master left on the table. When the master would be sick, the house Negro identified himself so much with the master, he’d say, ‘What’s the matter, boss, we sick?’ The house Negro was in minority. The field Negroes were the masses. They were in the majority. When the master got sick, they prayed that he’d die. If his house caught on fire, they’d pray for a wind to come along and fan the ...

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Talking out loud – Islam needs a reboot

At the very outset, let me clarify that I am neither a religious scholar nor do I have disciplined knowledge about the Muslim faith. The views expressed in this article are purely based on the perspective that one has developed over the course of the past many years. This is by no means a critique of a faith that millions of folks all over the world follow. To begin with, as paradoxical and contradictory it may sound, amidst all this opulent irreverence, the Muslims claim that there is a ‘back-to-religion’ movement the world over, as a reaction to the incessant indulgence ...

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