Stories about prayers

More than just cancer

I stared at him, not being able to comprehend what he had just said. Had I heard correctly? Was he really saying what I had just heard? Did those words really come out of his mouth? Tears started welling up in my eyes and my hands started trembling. I felt as if the whole world had just come to a halt. I looked at the person sitting next to me, equally astonished. What is this? My doctor had just told me that I had stage three cancer and that I would require surgery urgently to stop the cancer from spreading even further in my body. I just could not accept ...

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Keep the prayers coming for Michael Schumacher

I write this piece with a heavy heart as my idol and one of sports’ biggest icons Michael Schumacher is fighting for his life at a French Hospital. Seeing the ultimate racing driver, someone who is known never to back down on the race track, in a fight for his life has indeed sent shockwaves across the world. Indian sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik works on a sand sculpture of seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher to wish him a speedy recovery at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. Photo: Reuters Schumacher injured his head during a ...

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My grandmother supported me through everything…now it’s my turn

We have all had grandmothers who spoil and love us unconditionally. Although they teach us the same things that our parents teach us most of the time, we truly understand those lessons when they come from our grandparents. They are also the ultimate praying machines. And I know that I am not alone in saying that when our grandmothers pray for us, we usually believe that their prayers are bound to come true. “Hamara aur kaam hi kiya hai beta? Bas tum log ke liye duaein karna.” (What else are we supposed to do now, dear? Except for praying for you ...

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Ramazan diaries – From Makkah and Medinah

Sitting in a lounge for the privileged, waiting to board a flight to Dubai and then another from there to Jeddah, I find myself texting away. I have a million things on my mind. I have a life. Four hours later… I’m at the Dubai airport, about to board a flight to Jeddah; the only words on my lips are: Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (I am here, my Allah (SWT). I am present.) Prior to my flight, concerned friends had been warning me about a viral infection that is widespread in Makkah, and the unbelievable rush in Ramazan especially due to the underway expansion of the Masjid-ul-Haram. “You should not ...

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Celebrating the spirit of Ramazan, Bohra style!

As the clock strikes 6:00pm, we jump out of our beds from our two-hour long afternoon nap. It’s time to get dressed; I choose an appropriate Rida from the colourful collection I possess and start to get ready for the masjid. Meanwhile, my dad irons his plain white Sayo Kurto – the same kind he wears every day.    I always wonder how boring it is for Bohra men to wear the same kind of Sayo Kurto to the masjid every time – no matter if it is a big occasion or just an ordinary day. At least, us, women have ...

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The mosque where ALL Muslims are welcome

The opening of Pakistan’s first sect-free mosque is such a refreshing change from the religious violence that has been plaguing the country for years now. On the foot of Margalla hills in Islamabad, a businessman by the name of Zahid Iqbal has constructed a mosque. This mosque – called the Darul Iman Jamia Masjid Qurtuba – is Spartan in its appearance, but the message it sends is even morepowerful. In a time when inter-faith conflict is constantly escalating and Shia Hazaras in particular are subject to ethnic cleansing, this mosque welcomes visitors with a sign that reads, “This mosque does not discriminate ...

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Why I cancelled my vote

You know that awkward personal moment right after offering your prayers, when you are supposed to say a dua, ask for something and you really can’t come up with anything. So you say, “Allah Mian, you know what I need”, before wrapping up the janemaz. My voting experience could not have been any different from this; it was pretty much like saying my Namaz. Until that awkward moment arrived. Suddenly the most attractive box on the ballot papers was the last one filled with horizontal and vertical lines. I thought “well isn’t this representing how I feel? Aren’t we a nation ...

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Pakistan’s long forgotten Hindu temples and Gurdwaras

The partition of India was based on the premise that a Bengali Muslim would be able to identify with the sorrows and issues of a Punjabi Muslim more than a Bengali Hindu. Of course, that was a vicious and diabolic notion because I believe that culture and heritage stand above religion. I recently visited the dilapidated temples and gurdwaras of Rawalpindi and realised that the city still sings of her secular past. The entrance to a temple in Gunjmandi. Photo: Shiraz Hassan In the early 19th century, the British made Rawalpindi the central seat of military power as they aimed towards Afghanistan. This was in line with ...

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Unfathomable is He

When I was a kid, The mere existence of God, A being so Mighty, so Big, That it lived up in the skies, Far away from my tiny little world, Used to make my head spin. It still makes my head spin today. I still do not know how to understand Him, Or find Him. I do not claim to be a religious person, I rarely pray. Yet, there is something about being around nature, That makes me feel close to Him. It is a holy experience for me. For me, prayer is, sitting under a tree. Feeling the scales of an old weathered ...

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Azan, shisha and convenient hypocrisy

There is a cafe near my university which is frequently visited by students. It has groovy music and plenty of shisha. From the very visible public display of affection to the “immodest” dressing of students – it is a conservative’s nightmare.  I am sure you can picture the place in your head by now. So one particular day while I was there with my friends, a waiter suddenly rushed towards the sound system and switched it off.  One of my friends joked that maybe the Taliban had finally heard of this place and attacked. However, that concern was rapidly waived as girls sitting ...

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