Stories about religion

Why is public lynching becoming an acceptable form of vigilante justice in India and Pakistan?

It is unfortunate that unruly mobs are now hijacking civic spaces in India. With the confidence of being able to dissolve the unidentified in the crowd, the barbaric act of public lynching seems to have become the new norm. While Indian citizens geared up to kick off the nationwide #NotInMyName campaign against the on-going vigilante violence and mob lynching, a cold-blooded crowd stooped to demonic levels in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district by lynching a mentally challenged 42-year-old woman, Otera Bibi, on suspicions of child kidnapping and trafficking. (Viewer discretion advised: The following video contains graphic images) After beating her mercilessly for three hours by tying her to a tractor, the ...

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While a new day yields a new molester, our girls are still told it’s their fault

“It was my first day at work. I covered my head like a good Muslim, didn’t speak to the opposite gender unnecessarily, still somehow by the time I returned home, I had a few extremely vulgar text messages from unidentified numbers on my mobile. It shocked me because only a few family members had my new mobile number and I was 100% certain that it wasn’t a coincidence to receive such messages on my first day at work. I was frightened at the thought of someone at this new workplace having such a perception of me. That someone must have assumed I am ...

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This Ramazan, let’s make sure that converts are as much part of the faith as us

Ramazan and I are old friends. From a young age, mother would always let me stay up well into the night to fold samosas (fried dish with savoury filling) and fatayer (Middle Eastern meat pie) for the next day. For me, Ramazan means sleepy eyes, knowing smiles, and a month of eating on the floor with my family and praying with friends at the mosque I grew up in. More than anything, Ramazan means coming home – back to my community, back to my mama’s kitchen, and back to the One who sustains me. We are the lucky ones, those of us who have those deep traditions to fall ...

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Roads and religion: How CPEC will pit Pakistan against itself

‘Exclusive: CPEC Master Plan Revealed’, read a headline this week in Pakistan’s daily newspaper, Dawn. Instantly, news outlets from across the world scrambled to analyse the text of the now-viral article and provided their own respective analyses of this said master plan. The two words themselves seem especially ominous, harkening to the devious plots hatched by cunning antagonists in the spy movies of old. The words, however, in many ways do justice to what was revealed. The plan includes details of leasing large tracts of land to Chinese companies for ‘demonstration projects’ in agriculture with similar concessions in land granted for the construction of ...

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Was Sonu Nigam merely stating what many in India already feel?

In a country of over a billion people, personal space in public places is hard to come by. The streets are packed with hawkers, walkers, vehicles and animals of all stripes. A cacophony of sights, sounds and smells compete for your attention. Nobody gives a second thought to jostling or getting jostled, and the concept of the three-foot circle of inviolable personal space, so sacred in the West, is a virtual non-starter in ‘anything goes’ India. There are high levels of tolerance in this country and somehow everything gets accommodated. People adapt and adjust to the constantly shifting landscape and the new additions in their ...

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An open letter to the man I birthed

Last year, I entered the world’s finest and most respected club – motherhood. From then till now, my life has been a real rollercoaster ride. I never imagined my life as a nappy-changing, breastfeeding mother, but doing all this just made me more complete than ever. People had warned me that raising a boy was a different job and it truly is. Giving birth to a boy in a society like ours is a victory itself. The first words you hear after your delivery are,  “Mubarak ho, beta hua hai!” (Congratulations, it’s a son!) Every face around you, from the Dadi to the Nani, glows with the reassurance that ...

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I met a Jew who didn’t judge me for being a Muslim or a Pakistani

We believe we live in a connected world today, but is that really true? A few days ago, I asked my friend what she thought of it and she said, “We can connect to any part of the world with one click. We can access any information in the spur of a moment. What else is connectivity?” I partially agreed with what my friend had to say but I still wondered if we really are living in a connected world. We live in a world where we are limited within our own small worlds, which are usually only as big as our mind-sets. And the ...

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Lindsay Lohan might be converting to Islam, but how is that our business?

A blogger posted a screenshot of Lindsay Lohan’s new Instagram bio. She had deleted all her posts and the bio read “Alaikum salam” which translates to “peace be unto you.” As a joke, I took a screenshot of the bio and put it up as my cover photo on Facebook. One of my friends asked in the comments,  “What?” Another one commented, “All she has to do is be herself.” Lindsay Lohan has been the poster child for Hollywood’s influence gone wrong on child stars. From her shopping habits, to friendships, to her drug addiction; everything about her has been considered public property. Her ...

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Is The OA just another Stranger Things?

On December 16th, 2016, Netflix released a new science fiction show called The OA which tingled with fantasy elements and supernatural vibes. The show is created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij and the executive producers include big names such as the recently discussed Brad Pitt. The series focuses on Prairie Johnson, an adopted young woman who comes back after being missing for seven years. The OA. Upon her return, Johnson calls herself “The OA”, exhibits scars on her back, and can see, despite having been blind when she went missing. She refuses to tell the FBI and ...

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An open letter to the world from a hijabi

Writing this letter was hard. I didn’t even know where to start. I guess my life and this letter are quite similar in this regard. I know what some of you might be thinking – “what is this girl blabbering on about, and why are we even reading this?” – but it’s important for me to explain to you and make you understand where I’m coming from. I need to salvage the last bit of hope I have remaining. You don’t know me personally but I am a Pakistani hijabi. I have two of the most deplored identities in the ...

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