Stories about intolerance

When did dancing go from a form of art to a taboo, dishonourable act?

I am blessed to enjoy rhythm in my life, and blessed to have parents who put no restrictions on my body’s movement to music. I grew up as a typical uninteresting teenager; music blaring from my room, no matter what time of the day or night it was. I was so obsessed with music that even my telephone conversations with my girlfriends mostly consisted of singing along to the lyrics of the latest popular songs. All this was made possible due to growing up in a home in Lahore which provided space and privacy without disturbing the peace of other family members. My ...

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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 ...

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“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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The biggest treasure we can give our kids is to teach them about Edhi

He was not a mystic, an angel or someone from out of this world. He was a common man. He was from amongst us who stayed true to his roots and taught people a better way to live through his actions. What made Edhi stand out from everyone else was not by any sort of divine miracle, but because of the actions he took and decisions he made in his life. He faced poverty, lack of resources and odds (like all of us do) but he did not bow down or shy away from challenges; whenever he was faced with ...

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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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Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of Ahmadis in Pakistan

Chaudhry Abdul Khaliq, a 50-year-old Ahmadi homeopath was killed with a single gunshot to the head this Monday in the Abul Hasan Ispahani locality of Karachi. This is the second fatal shooting of an Ahmadi in this locality in a three week period and a continuation of the increase in violence against the community since the attack on Darul Zikr by the Punjab Taliban in 2012. Unfortunately, many of us continue to remain in denial about the treatment of Ahmadis in Pakistan and refuse to accept that the level of discrimination and the slow trickle of violence against them is untenable and unacceptable. In an attempt to put things ...

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This March 23rd, admit that you do not love Pakistan

I do not believe that patriotism and the expression of love for our country ought to be limited to just a couple of occasions like March 23rd or August 14th. Yet here I am, writing a piece for one of these very days, which is less of a celebration and more of a concern. I have said and heard the phrase “I love Pakistan” a million times and wondered what it really means. Love for the soil, the seas and the sand, for the land that is Pakistan’s territory? For me loving Pakistan is loving the people who belong to this country; my people. ...

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Muslims and Christians are more similar than you think

Recently, a professor at Wheaton College in the US was put on ‘administrative leave’ after she donned a hijab to show her solidarity with Muslims and expressed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Wheaton College is an Evangelical Christian institution which holds firmly to fundamentals of the Evangelical church. The Statement of Faith of Wheaton College defines Evangelical belief in God as, “WE BELIEVE in one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons: the everlasting Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life; and we believe that God created the Heavens and the ...

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Why I have lost all respect for Imran Khan and PTI

In the 2013 general elections, I wholeheartedly and proudly voted for Imran Khan. It was the first time that I was eligible to vote and my excitement was beyond measure. Alongside this, I was smitten by Imran’s passionate speeches and lively rhetoric. I was too young to understand that his words were just that – mere words. And even though many people asked me to reconsider my decision, I still went ahead and stamped the bat symbol on the ballot paper. Today, I regret making that decision. On Wednesday, July 22, 2015, Imran lauded the Afghan government’s efforts to start a dialogue with the ...

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The price I pay for respecting Islam

Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would become a scholar focusing on Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. Growing up, my passion was playing basketball and following the Boston Celtics. I never had any Muslim friends. In fact, I did not even know a single follower of Islam until my college years. If you had asked me “What is a Muslim?” when I was 16-years-old, I would not be able to answer you. But everything changed when 9/11 happened.  Muslims were seen as “extremists” and Islam was an “evil” force that had to be crushed by “freedom loving people”. When it came time to ...

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