Stories about religion

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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Why I wanted to abort my baby

The facade of life; how extraordinarily amazing yet deceiving. A dear friend, living an apparently ideal life shares her story: I had a love marriage, and since this is looked down upon in general, we faced a lot of opposition from both our families and friends. This eventually led to a lot of resentment, and my once beloved husband forgot that he fought so hard to have me in his life and let everyone mistreat me, so much so that I myself was not sure if love really existed between us anymore. Three years and two kids later, a girl and ...

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5 stories that prove the trauma of Partition did not end in 1947

As I think of the Partition that happened 71 years ago, it feels like a memory. Though I do not possess any personal narrative of it, yet it feels like I do have one – so personal that it invokes emotions. This owes to the Partition of 1947 being a national memory in both India and Pakistan to this day. A memory that, as Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal notes, “continues to influence how the peoples and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future”. Despite this eminence, it feels like there is a dearth of narratives; stories that ...

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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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