Stories about religion

Partition 1947: Their worlds suddenly changed, never to be the same again

Partition. A simple word used to refer to the extremely traumatic events of August 1947. A word that seems devoid of any emotion whatsoever; concealing the atrocities committed and the thousands slaughtered in the name of religion. As boundaries were rashly drawn by the British and their colonial country was left ravaged by war, how aware were these higher orders that communities, families and friendships would be so ruthlessly ripped apart? Everyone from both sides of the border have their own tales of Partition. My own daadi and naani (paternal and maternal grandmother respectively) often narrate their accounts of pre-Partition India, Partition, and ...

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#TherapistDiaries: The realities of OCD, today’s ‘urban term’

It’s not uncommon in pop culture to use diseases and illnesses as verbs. This insensitive practice often includes the term Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It’s misused to such an extent that it is almost an urban term these days. I heard a teenager, in a popular movie, talking about his mom who was concerned about her son not washing his hands before eating, say, “She’s so OCD!” A designer, whose job focused on geometric and symmetric designs, once told me, “I have OCD”. She had been diagnosed by her friend, who read a random internet article which said that having an obsession with ...

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Why I ditched my chador

When I was in my teens, some 20 years ago, my parents would tell me to wear a chador (a large piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and upper body) and cover myself every time I would go out of the house. I lived in a small city and my father was widely known. Each time I stepped out of my house, I would cover myself from head to toe, sometimes even the face if I was with my father, as he didn’t want people gazing at his daughter. I understood at the time that this was essential for ...

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Khudparast: An apt depiction of all that is wrong within our society

Amongst the current trend of depicting social issues and taboos through the medium of TV dramas, the hit show Khudparast takes the lead, as it encompasses everything wrong within our society. The story revolves around the life of a lively girl named Uswa (Ramsha Khan) who doesn’t believe in living by the rules. She has brothers who are all married, and her free spirit is a thorn in the flesh of their wives, as they are constantly plotting to bring her and her older sister, Mariah, down. Their constant hatred towards their sisters-in-law is unbelievable, and yet shockingly uncanny. However, Uswa ...

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From empowered to oppressed: Today’s treatment of women contradict our Islamic teachings

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was considered the greatest embodiment of the principles laid out by Allah (SWT) in the Holy Quran, and he set the finest example for his followers. Hence, the best way to appreciate how Islam empowers women is by observing the conduct of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) towards women. Let us start with a hypothetical question for all the men: suppose you are in your 20s and you received a proposal of marriage from a widowed woman who is more than 10 years older than you, and who coincidentally also happens to be your employer. With ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Anxiety, depression and suicide – the realities of forced marriages

She was barely 19 at the time. She sat on a silver throne decorated with floral arrangements with a posture similar to that of a sacrificial being. My emotions in this moment were as artificial as the floral arrangements. I looked over at the 50-year-old man sitting beside her, and could no longer pretend to be happy. Because that’s when it registered – she was getting married to this man. All of a sudden, my conversations with this girl, with whom I had played games throughout my childhood, came rushing to my mind. I also recalled what she had told me just a ...

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Lacking poignancy, ‘What Will People Say’ could have been more nuanced and relatable

In her second movie, What Will People Say, Pakistani-Norwegian filmmaker Iram Haq tries to relay the experience of a teenager who is caught between the fairly conservative background of her family and the liberal atmosphere of the country she calls home. The film – which is apparently inspired by the director’s own life – is centred on the story of 16-year-old Nisha (Maria Mozhdah), who is a typical Norwegian girl when she’s out with her friends but forced to conform to her parents’ strict rules when she is at home. After being caught fooling around with her boyfriend in her ...

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11 years later, both Pakistan and PPP are suffering the loss of Benazir Bhutto

I still remember the date. It was October 18, 2007, the day Benazir Bhutto returned from self-exile. I was posted in Karachi at the time, and it seemed as if an electric vibe was going through the entire city. As I returned from the office, I could see cars and buses full of people, many of whom were waving the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) flag. I was with a colleague who, after seeing those PPP supporters, could not hide his disgust and remarked: “Jahil qaum hai. Itni corrupt aurat ko welcome kar rahi hai. Yeh Bhuttos mulk loot ker kha gaye. Tab ...

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From a great writer to a great a leader: How Manto came to terms with Jinnah’s passing

On the 142nd birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah today, a little-known piece by the great Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto is being presented for the time in its original English translation. This piece is part of Manto’s published but uncollected writings that are only recently seeing the light of day. Though there is little or no evidence that the great writer ever met the great leader, this piece – originally published in the Daily ‘Imroz’ just three days after Jinnah’s death in September 1948 – crystallises the raw emotions of a writer in the aftermath of a national tragedy ...

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Amidst the cold, chilly world, their hearts were warm

The sweet smell of gingerbread cookies filled the chilly air in the crowded market on Christmas Eve. A choir of young men and women stood in lines, singing cheery Christmas carols in their melodious voices. They wore black robes over their dresses and held gold candles in the palm of their hands. Amidst the crowd, a lush evergreen conifer tree sat in the middle of the marketplace. Beautiful ornaments of all colours covered the tree and glittered under the dim light of the tiny fairy lights which twinkled in warm shades of yellow, red and green. To complete the look, a large ...

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