Stories about religion

My best friend committed suicide – they advised him to ‘pray’ the depression away

These last few days have been particularly rough. They have been rough because one of my dearest childhood friends committed suicide, and not on account of a drug-based overdose or a road traffic accident (two of the most common causes of young adult mortality in our country). No. My friend shot himself. Before you go on to think perhaps a serious religious intervention could have saved his life, please halt your train of misguided, impulsive, ‘fatwa’ styled reasoning. Don’t even go there. Because my friend was probably one of the most religiously devout persons I have ever come across. He prayed five times ...

Read Full Post

In Pakistan, restaurants only care if you fast, but not if you pray

“Fast, pray, feast!” This attractive marketing tagline, alongside tempting pictures of food, is being circulated by a well-known eatery this Ramazan, as is the case every year. Not only is the food tempting, but also the deals. And why not? When one opens their fast at sunset in this most special month for Muslims, delicious food is but a must. But there is one issue. While they openly marketed the “pray” bit, there is no place for praying if you go to said eatery for an iftar deal. A young girl I spoke with who went there with her friend ...

Read Full Post

South Korea is my home away from home, but not during Ramazan

Pascal Mercier once said, “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place; we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Thus, it goes without saying that people who move to foreign countries, where they perhaps enjoy a better system, modern technology, a peaceful environment and numerous social benefits, will also undoubtedly miss the true colours of their homeland. No matter how wide your social circle is, or how awesome the foreign land you have moved to is, when it comes to ...

Read Full Post

A soldier, lost in translation

An endless wave of nothingness arrives: The storm, the red eye and the golden nose; The plunge of the people and the nosedives; Waving upon the wild cherry crossbows, The warm air in the engine cools me down, The colour changes; from black to nut-brown, The air foresees a mist from the western hallows; The tail of the behemoth creeps upon the shadows.   The jarring men wiry and scathing, Skin measled with scrawling screws; Itching toes rubbing against gunmetal swarf The ears bellow in the wailing sound, sucking the air from the atmosphere. The blades grumbled and crumbled against the flesh that trudged the gruntled wind, The brass that lent itself to ...

Read Full Post

Feminism needs to cater to Muslim women, not the other way around

Feminism needs to include women of colour, Muslim women, disabled women, sex workers, trans women, gay women, queer women, fat women, skinny women. It needs to cater to all women. The fact that the term ‘intersectional feminism’ exists proves that the general movement is often exclusive and largely white. Mainstream, western feminism isn’t always intersectional. There are feminists who often don’t realise or can’t relate to the fact that for women of colour, of different faiths, abilities, it’s not just gender that they’re discriminated on. Such women are affected by these circumstances professionally, socially and mentally, and yet don’t always receive the ...

Read Full Post

Ahsan Iqbal was shot but the bullets were provided by the very hands he shakes

As I write this, the country is still reeling from the shock of an assassination attempt on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. I am grateful that the minister has survived and is on his way to recovery. The accused attacker, who has been caught, claims to have attempted this assassination on the pretext of protecting “Khatm-e-Nabuwat” (finality of Prophethood). Considering the fact that Ahsan himself is a religious and a very decent person, this is an extremely dangerous development. It shows that now, literally, anyone could be a target, if some fanatic believes that he or she has violated the sanctity ...

Read Full Post

5 reasons why ‘Homo Deus’ will get under your skin and make you question humanity’s future

If you are lucky, you may come across a book that challenges your assumptions, upends your convictions, and knocks down your indoctrination. If you are really lucky, then the said book may present an alternative and limitless world view of possibilities, generating a warm fuzzy feeling within; perhaps because your assumptions have been challenged, convictions upended, and indoctrination knocked down. I can safely say this has happened to me recently. After several years of sporadic reading of contemporary fiction, creative non-fiction and general non-fiction, I finally had the pleasure of reading Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah ...

Read Full Post

The perversity of labelling eight-year-old Asifa as ‘the new Nirbhaya’

As India slowly wakes up to the horrors that were inflicted on eight-year-old Asifa Bano in January, collective outrage is gathering steam. New hashtags are trending every day. Horrifying details about the crime are emerging to shake us out of our consciousness. Armchair activists are leading the shout to get justice for Asifa. And rightly so. It is impossible not to be moved to tears after reading the terrible details about the Kathua rape case. From being drugged, to being gang-raped by men who wanted to ‘satisfy their lust’, to being strangled and bludgeoned to death in two horrific attempts, ...

Read Full Post

Why your husband might be gay

Allow me to get straight to the point. Homosexuality exists, and contrary to the mass media being dominated by heterosexual affairs, the ubiquity of same-gender attraction cannot be ignored. Yes, we need to talk about this. It’s difficult to say what percentage of the population is gay, because ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ are not distinct demographics. About 2.5% of the population may be exclusively gay, but realistically speaking, every person lies somewhere on the spectrum. For a long time, we’ve relied on what is known as the ‘Kinsey Scale’ – rating a person on a scale of one to six, with one being ‘attracted ...

Read Full Post

No, you may not call me a ‘Paki’

There was a strange time when I was growing up, where I didn’t fully understand the dual identity I had as a Pakistani-Canadian. I thought I was just like everyone else, until I was nine-years-old. At school, a notice was given to students with information about how to keep hair clean to avoid lice. A young white boy scoffed at the notice, and announced that the only people who needed this reminder were the “Paki” kids. This was my first taste of prejudice, but it became all too familiar as I continued to grow up in a diverse, yet inharmonious society. Fast ...

Read Full Post