Stories about Muharram

The point of snap checking

On the eve of Muharram, a colleague and I were on our way home in a company car. We had just passed a bakery in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Karachi when we noticed multiple security vehicles parked along the side of the road. About 10 officers were randomly motioning vehicles to pull over. It never crossed my mind that they would stop our vehicle as we were not speeding or breaking any other law that I was aware of. Our vehicle also bore, quite distinctly, the name of our media organisation. But then one policeman directed us to pull over and exit the ...

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Pakistani media: Making a terrorist out of an innocent man

On November 18, in the name of soi-disant sectarian fights an Imambargah in Karachi was attacked. The incident undoubtedly deserved media attention and so it received this with live coverage by various news channels. What struck me, however, was the way one of these channels treated the incident. While most news channels reported that the motorbike on which the bomb was planted had an illegal number plate, one of these channels decided to be over-efficient with some “exclusive” bits of information – the name and location of the man who owned that number’s legal plate. Despite repeated mentions that his motorbike was ...

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Gaza: Disgust and dismay

I am dismayed and disgusted by the biased, one-sided reporting about the Israeli strike in Gaza; the mainstream media is making it out as if Gaza has instigated the violence when the truth is that Israel provoked the Gazans all through the month of October, killed a mentally disabled man, shot a young boy while he was playing soccer, and finally assassinated a Hamas leader who they had entrusted with the impossible task of maintaining the truce, all the while continuing its inhuman blockade of the occupied territories without remorse, continuing to build illegal settlements, continuing to force Palestinians ...

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Intolerance in Ramazan: A new phenomenon or a revision of Zia’s era?

The instances of lack of tolerance this Ramazan have been too many to account for. Either Pakistan has glided one step further in achieving the state of ‘piety’ during this Ramazan or I have grown up enough to actually observe and notice these loathsome antics. I don’t know why this Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance had to come into action all of a sudden because almost all my life I’ve witnessed instances of tolerance and forbearance during this holy month. While we observe the lack of tolerance of not letting people eat freely during fasting hours, I remind myself of those non-Muslim friends of ...

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Why thank the Taliban, minister?

Every Pakistani was thankful that Ashura passed off without incident and gave full credit to security agencies for employing stringent measures on the solemn occasion. Contrary to this, talking to journalists later, Interior Minister Rehman Malik thanked the Taliban for the merciful act of not carrying out any terror acts during Muharram. The statement not only stunned his compatriots, it also exposed the real reason behind the peace in Muharram — it was not actually because of heightened security, but because of an ‘understanding’ between the government and the Taliban. It was also clear from the statement that the terrorists ...

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Why Ashura is a ‘Holy-Day’ for all of us and not just you

I was tempted to write this article when I read another one on The Express Tribune titled ‘Muharram is your holiday, not mine’. In this blog, the writer complains about how she feels discriminated against and threatened by the Sunni sect, especially during Muharram and the day of Ashura. While my intention is not to preach my version of Islam or contradict any sect’s belief, I feel that both Shias and Sunnis fight over the wrong reasons, with each sect going to the extremes to defend its own beliefs and judge the others’ doings. For me, following the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) ...

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Muharram is your holiday, not mine

I am a Shia Muslim living in a country that offers me no security. While I agree that no one in Pakistan is really safe from the constant terror attacks, the recent acts of sectarian violence with absolutely no accountability paints a very bleak picture for me.  People, in general, tend to target people who are a little different from them, and this is the sad reality of life. In Pakistan, Shias are no exception. Aside from the obvious threat to their security, there are other things that worry us Shias, and make us contemplate about how open-minded our society ...

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Of Urdu marsia

Most of the new books I have received in the Muharram context are either collections of marsia elegies or discuss the modern Urdu marsia as a genre. Sadly, few if any books have been published in decades about the Karbala tragedy that represent historical research. I remember a book by some Egyptian scholar Maktaba-i-Jadeed had printed and which became very popular as an objective account of the tragedy. The publisher used to print a fresh edition almost every year. Ever since Maktaba-i-Jadeed closed down the book has disappeared from the market. This aside is not meant to deny the significance of ...

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