Stories about islam

Why do we exoticise the Kalasha yet continue to ignore their woes?

The mountainous communities of Pakistan who inhabit the valleys of Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Himalaya are on the margins, ignored and side-lined; dependent on external centres of power for knowledge that define and decide their identities, policies and power dynamics. The people of Pakistan largely don’t know much about these communities, their languages, cultures and history. This was glaringly evident during the media coverage coming out of the valley during the recent visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to one of the Kalasha valleys in the Kalashadesh in Chitral. Some reporters associated with certain famous media houses even thought that ...

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The Maulana and his army

If Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman goes ahead with the plan he has announced, hordes of khaki-clad men wielding sticks will descend upon the federal capital. No matter how many times Rehman insists that these men will remain peaceful, the striped sticks they will be brandishing are by no means for playing dandiya (a folk dance performed with sticks) with the law enforcement personnel deployed to deal with them. Rehman recently flexed his muscles in Peshawar, staging a gathering of this militia called Ansarul Islam and then letting them loose on the streets of the city, giving the ...

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Who exactly will the Islam-centred TV channel be for?

Prime Minister Imran Khan recently announced that the governments of Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia will collaborate to launch a “BBC type” English television (TV) channel to challenge Islamophobic views in the West. The channel is expected to highlight various issues specific to Muslims in the West and “contextualise” cases of blasphemy. So why aren’t we feeling as hopeful as we should? Our meeting in which we decided to set up a BBC type English language TV Channel that, apart from highlighting Muslim issues, will also fight Islamophobia. pic.twitter.com/GA6o15oJFH — Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 30, 2019 Misperceptions which bring people together against Muslims would ...

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Are we carrying out Eidul Azha rituals the right way?

Emaciated bodies, their remains everywhere, blood flowing on already dirty streets across the city and the smell of freshly cut flesh – this is a glimpse of Karachi on the first day of Eidul Azha, aka Bakra Eid. I’ve heard that amongst sacrificial animals, this day is known as D-Day. The effects of Eidul Azha are already felt a week or so prior to the event itself. It starts when you step out one fine day and your nostrils are greeted with the oddest of stenches, until you suddenly detect the actual source of the smell: the goat your neighbour bought a ...

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As a Muslim husband, I do not agree with Farhat Hashmi and her view on marital rape

It was the summer of 2015. I was in Pakistan for a month and a half due to the demise of my father. My visit coincided with the month of Ramazan. During the holy month, my wife decided to attend Dars-e-Quran sessions conducted by a certain Islamic scholar, Tahira Yousuf. One night, my wife asked me to pick her up after the lecture. When I reached the centre, the lecture had just ended and I saw a large number of women from apparently affluent backgrounds coming out of the hall. When my wife sat in the car, I asked her ...

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Why I ditched my chador

When I was in my teens, some 20 years ago, my parents would tell me to wear a chador (a large piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and upper body) and cover myself every time I would go out of the house. I lived in a small city and my father was widely known. Each time I stepped out of my house, I would cover myself from head to toe, sometimes even the face if I was with my father, as he didn’t want people gazing at his daughter. I understood at the time that this was essential for ...

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Two years in Pakistan made me reconsider my values on parenting

A few years ago, a friend of mine sent me Khalil Gibran’s poem, On Children. Upon reading it, I remember my first thought being, ‘this guy probably didn’t have children of his own’. I was appalled at the things he suggested in his poem. Gibran wrote: “Your children are not your children, They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself, They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” I got married at the age of 23, and exactly nine months later, I became the mother of a daughter who is ...

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(Not) ‘All Pakistanis suffer equally’

In the wake of the recent heart-rending tragedy that befell the Hazaras of Hazarganji, a number of prominent media personalities such as Asad Rahim Khan, Pervez Hoodbhoy, and the relentless political activist Jibran Nasir, came out in vocal support of the highly persecuted minority ethnic group. They openly spoke about the real motivation behind why the community continues to be preferentially targeted by a now annual onslaught of militant attacks, and why its predicament is still met with a rabid form of popular indifference that is nauseating to even consider, let alone make sense of. Tomorrow morning a few friends and I will be ...

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When will people like Khateeb stop using a peaceful religion as a tool for violence?

A frightening incident recently took place in Bahawalpur in which a student fatally stabbed his teacher. The teacher wanted to organise a welcome party which the said student considered ‘un-Islamic’ due to the intermingling of males and females. In a chilling confessional video, the student alleged that the late professor used to ‘insult’ Islam on a regular basis. He showed absolutely no remorse for his action, and when asked as to why he didn’t take the legal route, his answer was that courts in Pakistan are freeing ‘blasphemers’. A student of 5th semester at Govt Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur who identifies himself as Khateeb Hussain when ...

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Trying to find a middle ground in religion, Three Daughters of Eve raises more questions than it answers

The most pressing concern of an individual confused about his/her belief or faith is the instinctive attraction towards spirituality or religiosity. The path towards righteousness is often met with confusion. Though there is some clarity, the confusion is always there. Elif Shafak’s recent novel, Three Daughters of Eve focuses on three main characters, categorised in the book as, the Sinner, the Believer and the Confused. It also focuses on the character of the professor. The book constantly moves between the past and present, and between the protagonists’ feelings of confusion, reasoning and clarity. The book primarily deals with the character of Peri, a ...

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