Stories about Quran

Lessons from a halaqa in the US: There is more to Islam than we ‘think’

A couple of months ago, I was invited to attend a halaqa (Arabic for group study) at a university in the US where I was a visiting medical student for my elective. The halaqa had been organised by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) of the university. I was curious to attend it for I had never been to one before. The concept seemed a bit unusual; it was not supposed to be like a dars, a lecture on any Islamic topic, but more of an open discussion. Moreover, the discussion was to be held under the supervision of a mentor who had the proper knowledge ...

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The Qari Sahib who made me an unbeliever

Asad lived by the motto, “To each his own.” Although reciting the Quran was not on his to-do list, he did not judge the Book, nor did he criticise those who followed it in different ways. All he wanted was to escape a memory tainted with horror, pain and shame – a memory which had caused him to abandon all his associations with Islam and everything pertaining to it for over a decade. The last time he had read the Quran had been with the Qari Sahib. Asad did not believe in God. He had seen people dying in tragic ways, others suffering from incurable diseases and still others ...

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Does a woman have the right to live after her husband’s death?

It was a yellow morning – a pale, sickly yellow. I looked around to find that most of the furniture had been pushed against the walls and stark, white sheets covered the floor. Tables from all over the house had been brought to this room and were laden with copies of the Holy Quran, siparas and Surah Yasin booklets. I walked to the bathroom to splash water on my face and looking in the bathroom mirror, it hit me – I was a widow. I couldn’t believe that it was just the morning before when I had been standing ...

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Pir Sahab’s orders: Don’t breast-feed your child or eat meat

Recently, a two-month old boy, Faizan, was brought to the hospital where I work, by his grandmother. She complained that he suffered from severe diarrhoea. I immediately asked her to bring Faizan’s mother so that we could establish breast-feed for the baby. We are currently in the process of educating mothers about the importance of breast-feeding at our malnutrition stabilization centre, and are trying to help them establish or re-establish breast feeding. In reply to my request, she answered, “Who tou nahi ayegi kyunke uska perhaiz hai.” (She won’t come because she is on abstinence.) Seeing my perplexed expression, she told me ...

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Connect with God during Hajj, not Facebook, Twitter and Skype

As part of my daily morning ritual, I turned on the TV this morning while having breakfast to catch up with the news on local and international fronts. Soon I found myself tiring not only of the nonsensical and overly dramatic local media, but also of the international coverage which was little more than the US government’s ‘shutdown’. So I began to flip channels and hopped on to Saudi TV network’s Quran channel. A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I sat, transfixed, surrounded by memories of my own Hajj journey exactly two years ago. After the pilgrimage, I ...

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Why ban alcohol when it is consumed openly?

While on one hand we hear declarations like, “sharaab haram hai!” (alcohol is forbidden in Islam) at the mere mention of alcohol, we have MPAs like Saleem Khursheed Khokhar who campaign to make it as easily available as regular soft drinks.   Celebrated Muslim poets like Omar Khayyam and Rumi often wrote about wine and intoxication, while there are claims that Allama Iqbal and Jinnah used to indulge in a little ‘suroor’  (intoxication) themselves. The modern Muslim world isn’t any different; the Middle East experienced a 70% growth in the sales of booze from 2001 to 2011. It has a high Muslim population ...

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Can Mother Teresa, a non-Muslim, go to heaven?

The recent killings of Shias and blasphemy charges against a young Christian girl are not a product of some foreign militant group terrorising our peaceful land. The incidents of violence against minorities and sectarian groups are largely a result of the ideology that exists in all corners of our society. Whether you are a liberal or conservative, educated or ignorant, we all share the blame for such incidents. On this very topic, a heated argument in my class erupted when I asked a simple question to my students: “Is Mother Teresa going to heaven?” To my surprise, more than 80% of this educated ...

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Dr Seuss and the Mullah

At the mosque today, a man takes the pulpit. He warns us quite gravely that we are all culprits; Islam is the true religion, it would seem. The others seem destined to fail, in his dream.   So we’re told to convert them: The Christians and the Jews. The Pagans, the Buddhists, and the Brahmin Hindus. I take great offense at his words and inflection. Politely I stand, and I pose him a question.   “Don’t two rivers eventually reach the same sea? Are any of them really that different from me?” Calling me a “kafir”, he says I’m incorrect, And my sacrilege’s earned me a ticket to heck.   On what grounds am ...

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That is my child

My child stands at the corner of the street, in tattered clothes, smelling of rotten fish, selling fragrant flowers to you.  You scrunch up your nose; throw the money at him and grab the flowers, making sure your hands don’t touch his.  That filthy, smelly child is my child. My child, in the chill of December, cleans your car with his calloused hands. His hands look older than your 70-year-old father’s, cracked and hard from the lifetime they have suffered in such a short period. You pay him a few cents and tell him to get lost as you zoom off. That ...

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The dilemmas of a Muslim shopper

Over the past couple of weeks my sister was in town,and along with my mother, we spent a good deal of time in shopping malls, taking advantage of discounts during a seasonal sale. Having lost a few pounds in the past couple of months, and after starting a new job in December, I had no qualms about treating myself to some new clothes, shoes, and accessories. Like many women, I find buying new items quite gratifying. This is especially so because in the past two to three years, I managed to work towards having financial freedom for the first time. ...

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