Stories about Muharram

When clothing brands profit from your grief

In this capitalist world, everything is for sale. Every season, every holiday, every occasion can be commercialised. Christmas Day sales, Black Friday, Thanksgiving sales, Diwali discounts, Eid collections; you name anything and there will always be a person making money off of it. In Pakistan, Eid and Ramazan are probably the most celebrated occasions, no surprises there since this country is the Islamic Republic after all. As soon as the month of Ramazan closes in, prices of food elevate to another level. From your fruit vendor to your butcher, everyone demands more money. And then there are of course those gazillion iftar ...

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Will anyone remember Lady Constable Shabaana?

She looked at her reflection in the stained, old mirror.  ‘Ammi ke jahez ka hai ye… ab bhi purana na hota tou kab hota,’ she thought to herself, eyeing her 32-year-old face in the 33-year-old mirror on the wall. (This is from mother’s dowry… it is stained because it’s very old) Smoothing out the creases in her pants, she eyed her widening figure apprehensively. Even the long duty hours were doing her no good. “Sabeen aur Nazish jo phakki bata rahi thein, wo nihaar moun khana shuru karti hun. Magar Sabeen tou ab bhi pura tank hi ha,” she chuckled recalling how her weight-conscious colleague Sabeen had ...

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When we’re told to “limit ourselves to the imambargah or shift these processions outside the city”

Recently, I came across a post on Facebook which stated the following: “Roads blocked, no mobile networks and markets are closed. Please stop bothering your fellow countrymen and limit yourselves to the imambargah or else shift these processions outside the city, somewhere on highway.” A typical, insensitive and privileged Pakistani comment. But this statement was not the only one. It is not unusual for the Shia community to hear such insensitive comments from Karachiities, whose lives are completely uprooted during 9th and 10th Muharram. Such insensitivity may not be uncommon, but it is hurtful, given the day and the solemnity of the incident being marked in Muharram. The ...

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Just how predictable is Raees?

Raees is manna for Shah Rukh Khan fans. We watched the film at the posh Metro Cinema but it felt like we were sitting at the erstwhile Novelty in Grant Road. Like Novelty, where movie goers were as unabashedly boisterous as patrons in upper-class cinemas are restrained, the audience at Metro hooted, shrieked and even danced when Khan appeared on the screen for the first time and each time he delivered a punch-line. In Raees, the camera is glued either to Khan’s face or his ripped body. For instance, a Muharram procession in the early minutes of the film is ...

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Gilgit Baltistan: That part of Pakistan where coexistance is a reality

Gilgit Baltistan is one of the most bestowed and beautiful places on our planet. And its people: equally marvellous. I had heard about the tolerance and religious harmony in Gilgit but until recently, I hadn’t seen a practical example of this coexistence that Gilgitis so often boast about. I am sharing this beautiful story for the rest of the Pakistanis, it is one we must all learn from and emulate. In Sunni majority Pakistan, the picturesque territory of Gilgit Baltistan is the only province of Shia majority. As such, the sacred month of Muharram has a special place in the region’s annual calendar. Just days ago, during the commemoration ...

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This Muharram, I realised that my father’s childhood is still alive

The beggar who did his beat in my old neighbourhood knew his audience well. The whole year he would beg by lamenting his misfortune with mixed results, but from the first day of Muharram he would change his tactic. In his high pitched but sonorous voice he would invoke the names of the Prophet’s (pbuh) family and the martyrs of Karbala. At some point he had come to the conclusion that the street my house was on was populated by Shias who would be moved to give charity when he called out the names of Hussain (ra), Abbas (ra) and ...

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Mourning is not exclusive to our Shia brothers – I am a Sunni and I mourn in Muharram

This article originally appeared here. I am Sunni. My family is Sunni. We love Abu Bakr (ra), Usman (ra), Umar (ra) and Ali (ra). We believe in their rightly guided caliphates. The Commanders of the Faithful. We believe in Aisha (ra) as the wife of the Prophet (pbuh) and a role model. A Mother of the Faithful. This is our belief. We are not Shia. Being Muslim, we love the Prophet (pbuh) and love all that he loves. For what is beloved to the Prophet (pbuh) is beloved to God. This includes the love for the people he loved. The Prophet (pbuh) loved his wives, his friends, his ...

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The importance of observing Muharram the Islamic way

Having grown up abroad, we were often part of a tiny (Muslim) minority group, no matter where we were based. Thus, we celebrated all religious and cultural occasions together. It happened over two decades ago, but I still recall it vividly. I must have been eight or nine-years-old when I was attending a majlis at another (Shia) Muslim household. When it came to the maatam (mourning), I was told not to participate. The child in me did as I was told, but I remember being left confused by the command. So I came home and asked my parents to explain. They tried to explain (as much ...

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Ramazan shows are like a slice of Pakistan: A bit of religion followed by a lot of gossip

For those of us who grew up watching PTV, religious shows were an integral and beneficial part of the daily routine. Anything that came on PTV, we watched. As a member of the PTV generation, I grew up watching the daily afternoon show where the recitation of the Holy Quran was taught, and I don’t recall missing Majlis-e-Shaam-e-Gharibaan on any tenth of Muharram, even as a Sunni. Religion, as presented on TV back then, was something to be respected and honoured on the media. I recall care being taken even about the kind of advertisements that were run between religious ...

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Why are C-sections becoming more common than natural birth?

Upon a recent visit to a private hospital, I was perplexed by the quirky change in nature’s playground; almost every second birth happened to be a caesarean. Were indulgent mothers insisting on it, or were they being brainwashed into it by unscrupulous doctors? Apparently, neither. These cases indicated a very genuine need for a caesarean. Regardless of how hard the medical staff tried, the stubborn baby simply refused to come out. Cocktails of hormones and solutions were provided to induce the contractions; however, it was all in vain. In such defeat, one had to resort to the machine and deeper, more invasive measures ...

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