Stories about religion

Is prayer a better way to deal with depression than treatment from a mental health professional?

I’d like you to take a moment to imagine two people. Both follow the same religious scripture, with equal regularity yet one interprets the passages as peaceful instructions on life, while the other sees them as commands to violently confront anyone who disagrees with certain worldviews. The disparity is drastic. They read the same words, yet the comprehension is as different as a chalk or cheese. When we speak of the religious extremism that plagues the world and its driving factors we rightly mention political unrest, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, violent text, the mullah culture, and more, but what we fail to talk about ...

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Why isn’t the #OregonStandoff being called terrorism? Because it’s not

Last year, when I wrote about the Chapel Hill murders of three Muslims for The Express Tribune Blogs, I revisited the definition of terrorism because the term is oft misused. Use of corrupted words relates to poor journalism and exhibit one is how the coverage of domestic controversy in the United States lacks rigid examination of facts, a fair analysis of both sides and proper context. This is not only unique to underground blogs, but endemic in mainstream media as well, where the focus excessively becomes about the race and religion of those involved. While identity is important, it’s as important to adhere to a standard of objectivity ...

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#IStandWithAhmadis, and so should you

Here in Pakistan, we often feel affronted by the mistreatment of the minorities overseas, we identify with racially, religiously, or culturally. Any occurrence of a mosque defiled, or a Muslim man or woman being abused in the West, is quickly shared across social media captioned with angry messages. This, of course, is fair enough. As someone who considers himself to be a member of this planet rather than defined by race or religion, I feel humanity should know no boundaries. That being said, it is difficult to fathom how the volume of our outrage is directly proportional to the distance of the ...

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I had to take off my Hijab because society refused to accept me

Out of the 50 Muslim majority states in the world, Pakistan ranks second in the list with a Muslim majority population of 97 per cent. And it was among these Muslims that I felt discriminated for donning a hijab. I began the practice of hijab during my second year in art school. Initially, most of my friends did not pay attention to my additional piece of clothing and encouraged the practice. Eventually, however, I realised that while all my relatives, friends and acquaintances professed to be Muslims, very few supported my choice to wear a hijab. During the first few weeks of donning a ...

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Reza Aslan versus Bill Maher: Learning the crucial difference between culture and religion

Responsible schooling, governance, international diplomacy, accountability and conscientious citizens are the demands of modern society. However, popular media despite its presence in every home, remains the most ignorant, irresponsible and manipulative aspect of modern life. With its capacity to communicate instantly, the world with its current atmosphere of extremism, global stress and social and political upheavals is more open to suggestions in a way it was never before. Therefore, manipulation by entities with access to an audience has wider influence than before. Labels are among the pithiest vehicles of language. They appeal most strongly to unthinking individuals, starting with those of all faiths in the pulpit ...

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Of misogynistic jihadists and their sexual jihad

Whether it’s the destruction of holy shrines, burning of hostages, stoning the accused and sexually assaulting girls, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has managed to set new boundaries and records of violence. Adding to their records is the recent execution of 19 girls in Mosul who refused to have sex with the group’s fighters. This is an extension of the sheer brutality that is normally attributed to them. Countless women have been abducted by the ISIS militants. The prettiest of the abducted virgins are then sent to the markets of Syria and Iraq where they are sold as sexual objects to the highest bidder, amongst the beasts salivating to get the best ...

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If Geeta was a Muslim, would the Indian government have done the same?

After the Indian High Commissioner, Dr TCA Raghvan and his wife met the hearing and speech-impaired ‘Hindu’ girl in Karachi, reportedly stuck in Pakistan for 13 long years, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj vowed on Twitter,  “We will bring Geeta back to India.” “Our High Commissioner believes that Geeta is an Indian,” Swaraj added, while thanking all the wonderful individuals in Pakistan who looked after the wretched girl like their own daughter and sister. Our High Commissioner believes that Geeta is an Indian. — Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) August 4, 2015 Geeta – whose heartrending story bears an uncanny resemblance to that of a character named ‘Munni’ in ...

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It is time to give back to the Ismaili community

“If people have made mistakes, forgive their mistakes. If people have harmed you, forget and forgive. Do not hold grudges, do not turn around and say, ‘he hurt me yesterday so I will hurt him today’. This is not the spirit of Islam” – The Aga Khan IV “I have lost friends. I don’t know how I should react. Words are not enough to define this tragedy. People who were part of our lives are no more with us but their memories will keep haunting us,” laments Shafiq*. He is a member of the Ismaili community – a community which lost 45 of its ...

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Rupi Kaur: Staining a woman’s modesty on Instagram?

This week has seen Instagram caught in a furore about its decision to remove a controversial photograph of a woman, Rupi Kaur, who was lying on a bed fully clothed except for a bloodstain which showed on her pyjamas, indicating that she was menstruating. The girl involved in this fiasco is a self-proclaimed Canadian poet who took great offence to Instagram’s decision to remove the picture stating that she “bleeds every month to help make humankind a possibility”. She posted the picture again only for it to be deleted again but by then the picture had gone viral. In order ...

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Islam would never allow Farkhunda to be lynched

I sat comfortably on a sofa browsing through Facebook; the ambiance was comfortable as was my state of mind. And then flashed an image of Farkhunda – a video clip recorded of the beating and the burning. I clicked on it, I should not have, but I did, I did, I did. And the realisation that Farkhunda must have hurt, she must have felt agonising pain, she must have screamed, she must have shouted, she must have cried ‘help’, she must have cried ‘murder’, she must have been shocked, she must have been scared, she must have been frightened, she must have known ...

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