Stories about Islamic culture

For Muslims in Pakistan, providing food for guests at funerals is a cultural obligation, not an Islamic one

Recently, my friend attended the funeral of her grandfather, the former Federal Minister Khalid Kharal. During the funeral, she realised the immense pressure on the family of the deceased to provide food for the mourners and the people attending. When she came back home and discussed this with me, we both concluded that the idea of providing food for the guests at funerals is more of a growing cultural obligation for Muslims in Pakistan rather than an Islamic one. The death of a loved one in the family or close friends is already the cause of severe grief and pain. Adding another responsibility of ...

Read Full Post

The lifafa culture and the materialistic desire to ‘earn’ more on Eid

Anybody who has grown up in Pakistan recognises that pretty lifafa (envelope) in pastel colours or in whites, embellished or plain, sometimes with just a name, at other times with loads of prayers written carefully. Inside, the coveted crisp notes and the smell of the currency printing press chemicals. These notes give many a banker sleepless nights during the last two weeks of Ramazan, as clients are ready to both beg and intimidate bank officials for fresh notes. Fifty ya 100 walay (ones). Five hundred walay. 1,000 walay. Even 5,000 walay if the family is upper tier. Getting eidi is the one time when we all enjoy feeling young because every one of us is ...

Read Full Post

I fell in love with Pakistani art in New York City

Pakistan has once again made headlines in New York City, but this time it’s for a good reason. Go Figureis a group show of young aspiring artists from Pakistan, showcased at Aicon Art Gallery in the East Village area of the city. The prospect of meeting Pakistani artists and art lovers in the city kept me excited for days before the inauguration. The show was exceptionally well curated, displaying highly imaginative illustrative, graphic and sensual work. Photo: Hassan Majeed Photo: Hassan Majeed On the opening night of art shows in New York, art-loving crowds ...

Read Full Post

Why do jihadists hate women but love pornography?

One of the defining aspects of our culture right now, though it is rarely acknowledged and discussed, is the problem of the young man. We often reflect as a society on the way in which our culture, especially as it is articulated in the media, has very strong and very negative consequences for our young women. From the way in which our media is affecting our cultural understanding of normal body image, to the psychiatric disorders (including but not limited to eating disorders) that ravage a shocking proportion of our teenage daughters, to the ways in which this new ...

Read Full Post

Where did Shab-e-Barat go?

Shab-e-Barat used to be my favourite festival. Yes, ‘festival’ and like all festivals, Shab-e-Barat was entertaining, fun and spiritual. And for a crazy kid growing up in Lahore during the 80s and 90s, it was probably a little adventurous and unsafe too. The local marketplace would host tens of stalls selling all kinds of fireworks known to man. All the kids in the neighbourhood would save their pocket money for months to be able to buy their fill of patakhay. The most popular fireworks included the Anaar (a fountain of fireworks), the Hawaiyaan (rockets) and the Bum (bombs, but not the kind that would explode and destroy half a city ...

Read Full Post