Stories about humanity

Do we deserve to ‘celebrate’ Eidul Fitr this year?

“Chand nazar agaya! Ramazan Kareem! Kal se rozay shuroo.” (We can see the moon! Ramazan Kareem! Fasting begins tomorrow) Some spend the night before in prayer. Others clink glasses and prepare for the pause in self-induced inebriation. Others stock up on Rooh Afza and pakora mix. Some can’t wait to be put in a food detox in hopes that they will lose the last few pounds during the holy month. The others are scared those extra pounds will sneak up on them. Some prepare a week in advance, cleaning out their savings account so that the banks don’t deduct zakat fees that they are liable to ...

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Pakistan has forgotten the true essence of Ramazan

This year, Ramazan has been anything but blessed and peaceful, considering we have witnessed the heart wrenching death of Amjad Sabri, the unfortunate kidnapping of Awais Ali Shah, and not to forget, the increase in mugging and theft throughout the city. Sure, we’re fasting, but is that really all there is to Ramazan in Pakistan? Amidst this chaos, I came across a Pakistani advertisement on television, directed by Vasan Bala. It’s a heart touching ad that depicts a little boy who wears new clothes for the festival and runs out to meet his friends. They spot an old sweet vendor whose cart is stuck in a ...

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If that was my kid, I’d want Harambe killed too

Over the past few days, the incident of a four-year-old boy (who had somehow ended up in a gorilla’s pit at the Cincinnatti Zoo, and where one of the gorillas was shot dead in order to keep the boy safe) has turbulently taken the internet by storm. Countless tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, and articles have been written about the incident; some justifying the killing of the gorilla for the boy’s safety, while others expressing immense outrage, stating that the boy’s mother, Michelle Gregg, was “negligent” and that the gorilla, the beautiful and endangered Harambe, should not have been killed. Curious, I decided to watch ...

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Chernobyl Prayer: A chilling walk through nuclear disaster struck lives

On April 26, 1986, at a nuclear plant in Chernobyl, a restricted district in Ukraine, a slapdash scientific experiment ignited a fire that exploded the plant and unleashed a heavy mass, almost 50 tonnes, of radioactive element into the atmosphere. The radioactive contamination swiftly spread towards much of Western USSR and Europe. The highly excited nuclear particles infested fields, landscapes, forest, villages and cities, leaving the area highly radioactive for hundreds of years to come. The Chernobyl disaster is one of the worst and most catastrophic nuclear accidents in the history of mankind; hence, it was no surprise that ...

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‘Gurus’ like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Ramdev are a bad influence on society

Spirituality is no guarantee of salvation; it does not make you immune to the ordinariness of life. The yellow garb or white robe does not lift you from your prejudices and pettiness. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Ramdev, the popular spiritual gurus of India with a large following have proved this point. Their conduct establishes how they have made spirituality a business, a resource that is exploited to get closer to political power. They use their support base as a constituency to strike a bargain with the ruling class and indulge in political brinkmanship. A spiritual guru is normally silent and maintains ...

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Through the eyes of Ashfaq

If you were to visit the departure floor of Jinnah International Airport between 10 am and five pm on a weekday, you would be awestruck by the melodious sounds created by a blind flute player. Ashfaq is a 42-year-old man who has been at the airport for the last 20 years. Born as a blind child, his childhood was pain ridden, troubled and filled with tales of ill-treatment. As soon as I heard about Ashfaq and his optimistic attitude towards life, various questions came to my mind, so I decided to meet him and find out more about him. When I finally got the chance ...

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Colonialism ruined Pakistan and India, even the Koh-i-Noor can’t fix that!

The most precious diamond England had before usurping the Koh-i-Noor from India was none other than William Shakespeare. But the legendary bard, unlike his avaricious countrymen, himself never coveted stones and riches. What he longed for was content, a pleasure which only a man with a heart and passions could enjoy. Shakespeare writes in his play King Henry VI, Part 3, “My Crown is in my heart, not on my head: Not deck’d with Diamonds, and Indian stones: Nor to be seen: my Crown is call’d Content, A Crown it is, that seldom Kings enjoy.” Needless to say, if Winston Churchill had 0.1 per cent of the writer’s virtues, the world ...

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If my father dies, I will hold Islamabad’s Shifa International responsible for his death

As I write this, my father is fighting for his life, unconscious with a ventilator pumping oxygen into his frail body from a makeshift tank in the surgical step-down of supposedly one of the best health facilities in this unfortunate country, the Shifa International Hospital of Islamabad. But my father was not like this a couple of days ago. He came to this hospital expecting humanity, civility, hospitality, professionalism and some refined attitude. None of his expectations were met and instead he nearly lost his life. As his bed was being darted into the ICU, he was unconscious and heartbroken. He had ...

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Atonement for Aylan: In refusing to witness suffering, we dehumanise ourselves

As the old year gives into the new, one image comes to my mind. His shoes had been carefully buckled. The rubber-soled sandals matched. Somehow in all the upheaval, Aylan’s mother had kept them safe in the thousands of miles trek from their Syrian home to these shores. Tonight, they must leave – the people-smugglers who would bring them to Europe now readied the boat to freedom. She coaxed him to sit still as she fastened them tight. The boat would be cold. Her son must be warm. His feet must not slip in the wet. Smoothing his hair into place, ...

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Can all Muslims act like the Muslim heroes of Mandera?

There was an incident in Kenya whereby a group of Muslims thwarted a potential attack by al-Shabaab (the fire spitting Somali al Qaeda) when they tried to kill a group of Christians who were traveling by bus to Mandera, Kenya. “Finally”, I said to myself, “Here’s something that shows that the Muslims still have some compassion left to do good and care about fellow humans!” In this day and age of doom and gloom, instances of turmoil and destruction loom large on our heads and overwhelm our thought process. Life, as we know it, is a tough nut to crack. ISIS and ...

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