Stories about prayer

I got dreams, dreams to remember

“I got dreams, dreams to remember.” I repeated this for hours on the soft prayer mat that cushioned my knees. My hands were cupped close to my chest, a tear falling occasionally on the lines of my palms. I got dreams, dreams to remember. There was a quiet drizzle outside my window. The wind picked up and the branches brushed across the glass. The tapping of the water on the window pane was the only noise I could hear, apart from my own breathing and that of Zamzam’s. I opened my eyes into darkness. I felt as if the blur from my tears hindered ...

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Walking with the Incas in Machu Picchu, a land where the ancient gods still reign

“Ama Sua. Ama Lulla. Ama Quella.” “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not be lazy.” This age-old quote from the Andean highlands defined the code of life for a nation that rose from oblivion to become one of the greatest cultures of its time – the Inca. Today, after 500 years, one of its architectural marvels, Machu Picchu, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Cusco, the ancient capital of Inca, was my first stop on the way to Machu Picchu. Situated at an elevation of 3,000 metres, this acted as a stopover and helped me acclimatise to the ...

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Being bipolar in Pakistan has not been easy, especially when people call you “pagal”

The squeaky voice of a trolley passing by woke me up. I was on a hospital bed. I slowly tried to get up while still trying to remember what brought me here. I was alone in the room, and the bed next to mine was neatly made up, with fruits and snacks lined up on the edge of the wall. ‘I had to be somewhere really important’ was all that I could remember. But where exactly? Nowhere! It was all just an illusion, a very dangerous one. I later learned that I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or maybe it was ...

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The woman with hands of gold

I always gushed about how my Mother’s hands were beautiful; though, all wonder had ceased as I realised… Her hands tenderly held my vulnerable self as I opened my eyes in this big-bad world; her face comforted me, there was an angel in this world Allah had sent me down to, I was in safe hands. Her hands determinedly raised me to my tiny feet, every time I fell to the ground in the attempt to walk; her will to support me still gives me strength from then till today. Her hands would swiftly push my swing as she pointed towards the ...

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Konya: The city of legacies, spirituality and Rumi

As we returned home from our trip to Uzbekistan last year, we kept aside four days in Istanbul to break the journey. Since we had already travelled to Istanbul previously, we decided to spend some time in Konya, which is the burial place of celebrated scholar and Sufi poet, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. Situated in the heart of Turkey, Konya is very well connected to the world by road, high-speed rail, and air. We had made our reservations to reach Konya from Istanbul via Pegasus Airlines, one of the no-frills Turkish airlines where the return fare from Istanbul was $50 per person. The airline operates from ...

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When I lost my father and society lost its empathy

I would like to talk about something I feel very strongly about – empathy, or its lack thereof. Before I elaborate, let me tell you why I feel so strongly about it. My father was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in April this year. In a span of a few weeks, I watched my strong, independent, confident father deteriorate in front of my eyes. We tried everything to try and find a cure but the disease had spread too far. Abbu left us a few months ago, in August. He was the backbone of our family and his death is something we are ...

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Since when does my fasting or not fasting jeopardise someone else’s imaan?

My grandmother used to call it Ramazan Shareef. There was no discussion, debate or argument over its pronunciation. The month would come in its usual cycle without much fuss or ado. Television channels wouldn’t go bonkers except for some increased airtime for naats and religious discussions that were never heavily advertised. People wouldn’t wear cloaks all across. If someone in the house didn’t fast, others wouldn’t raise their eyebrows. The non-fasting family members would comfortably go on with usual daily meals without being given guilt trips. There were simpler, not-so-extravagant iftar dinners where family members would get together without any pressure on ...

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Maya Angelou – An enlightened glow in the world of literature

When I read the news about Maya Angelou’s death yesterday, I felt a small ache in my heart. Our world lost another great laureate this year, Gabriel Garcia Marquez being the first. Angelou’s work is commendable. For me, she was a woman who had seen all facades of life and with her vast intellect, she enriched our literary world. She has published seven autobiographies and various books of poetry. Her books give a deep insight to her childhood and early adult experiences. Her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969 which was a narrative of her life till she ...

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Tempted to commit adultery? Indonesian governor says ‘Go pray!’

Are you afraid that you will be so attracted to the opposite sex that you will forget your vows to your significant other? Are you afraid that your sexual urges will no longer be in your control and if you’re an employer, you will most definitely sexually harass your employees? If yes, it may be time for you to move to Indonesia. A governor in Indonesia has found a cure for adultery – prayer. Apparently, he has never known an adulterer who prays five times a day. Either that or he feels that the longer he keeps men and women on the prayer mat, ...

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They can force them to convert to Islam but they can’t win their hearts!

As an expatriate boy growing up in Saudi Arabia, I dreaded attending my school’s mandatory afternoon prayer session. At the end of every long day in Manarat Al-Sharkia, all the Muslim students and teachers gathered before the final two classes to offer Zuhr (noon) prayers in the school’s stinking gym that carried a rancid air powerful enough to rival Hitler’s infamous gas chamber. By prayer time, the gym’s floor had already been saturated by the sweet-smelling sweaty socks of hundreds of young perspiring boys. Thankfully, the school management realised that the gym’s surface was probably host to a number of diseases ...

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