Stories about religious

Where did Shab-e-Barat go?

Shab-e-Barat used to be my favourite festival. Yes, ‘festival’ and like all festivals, Shab-e-Barat was entertaining, fun and spiritual. And for a crazy kid growing up in Lahore during the 80s and 90s, it was probably a little adventurous and unsafe too. The local marketplace would host tens of stalls selling all kinds of fireworks known to man. All the kids in the neighbourhood would save their pocket money for months to be able to buy their fill of patakhay. The most popular fireworks included the Anaar (a fountain of fireworks), the Hawaiyaan (rockets) and the Bum (bombs, but not the kind that would explode and destroy half a city ...

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In Malaysia, I visited a mosque – In Pakistan, I can’t

I am a Pakistani, but the first time I visited a mosque comfortably was in Malaysia. I was able to appreciate the house of worship without once feeling like an outsider, something I have never been able to do while living in Pakistan. As a non-Muslim tourist in an Islamic country I felt liberated to reveal my identity to everyone, and I consciously did so just to relive that feeling again and again before I returned home. In Malaysia, however, it is not until one utters ‘Assalamu alaikum’ can you gauge if they are Muslim. Although over 61.3% of the population ...

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Three Muslim films Pakistanis must watch

Pakistan might not have the best movie industry in the world but Muslim countries across the world have managed to spread some truly phenomenal messages and cultural insights through their films industries. The Iranian cinema’s popularity in European film festivals and their recent Oscar win, is but one example of Muslim cinema’s increasingly transforming and often very realistic nature. In light of that, here are three thought-provoking films from different Muslim film industries that are sure to leave you pondering upon the many facets of Islamic beliefs and Muslim cultures. They will also highlight the drastic parallelism between foreign Muslim societies and ...

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Every Jew is not a Muslim foe!

At the very outset of this blog, I would appeal to the readers to be open-minded. To label, without any basis, all Jews outspoken in favour of tolerance to Muslims or vice versa, of having some hidden agenda or being sponsored by vested interests, is similar to a non-Muslim making such a generalisation for all tolerant Muslims. Being an Indian Hindu, writing on this topic, I ought to clarify that I am far from being an Islamophobe, nor am I an uncritical admirer of the Israeli state. I have written this article only out of a commitment to world peace. Some say that ...

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Shaving Privates Ryan

Alfred Noble invented the dynamite in order to facilitate mining. His invention was misused and resulted in one of the highest death tolls of humans by any weapon. You can’t control the consuming end. Considering that, if you fear your product might be misused, just don’t sell it and avoid the doubts – especially when your reasons are based on religious grounds. See, many people buy cucumbers but not all of them eat them. Some just use them for garnishing and throw them away. Don’t get the wrong idea, people. As is seen in the picture above, this is what I ...

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Once upon a time, in the land of the pure, I was a religious fundamentalist

I have a mantra on life which I wish to share with all of you – ignorance restricts and breeds hatred and extremism, while knowledge liberates and breeds compassion and understanding. Fundamentalism stems from ignorance and thus, only breeds negativity. It is a venomous disease that kills positivity and growth. It needs to be identified and cured, on a very personal level. As a Muslim, who had adopted a fundamentalist approach in his earlier days, I have come a long way by internalising a basic yet painful truth – I do not have all the answers, hence different points of view are not ...

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We are all blasphemers

A few days back, as an aftermath of the sectarian violence in Rawalpindi on Ashura last year, I saw a post on a social media site which supported the idea of death by hanging for any act of blasphemy done against Allah (swt), the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his companions (ra) and the Ahle Bayt. There were a lot of comments; emotionally charged Muslims, full with religious fervour, supported and encouraged the motion polishing their imaan. After going through a number of comments, I decided, it was time for me to finally explode. It had been a while since my last backlash on society, religious extremists and particularly anyone ...

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Do we need madrassas in Pakistan?

Pakistan has undoubtedly become a difficult place to live in with death penalties for the weakest of the weak while terrorists and thugs are acquitted and walk free.  It is quite true that those who believe in absurdities are the ones who commit atrocities. Blasphemy or what ‘they’ term blasphemous is one such absurd idea that provides the basis for committing atrocious acts in Pakistan. The death sentence given to a young Christian man, Sawan Masih, is a great example of such an atrocity committed in the name of ‘blasphemy’ under Pakistan’s rigorous blasphemy law. Sawan Masih, a cleaner, was arrested last year in March in ...

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Will Sharif be able to follow Mahathir and Erdogan?

As I read some of the statements made by the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan, and the reactions following them, a feeling of deja vu overcame me. Haven’t I heard (all) this before? In the late 1990s, the former prime minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was facing an Asian financial crisis. Just like Erdogan is doing now, he blamed the West, the Jews and the currency speculators for the crisis and thus, restricted people’s right to freedom. Unsurprisingly, he was also accused of being authoritarian, anti-Semitic and a propagator of far-fetched but dangerous conspiracy theories. But these are not the only similarities between the two prime ...

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An old Christian lady and a suicide bomber…

“You have to make sure you press this little red button twice near your left pocket, not more than three feet away from the target. You know how much three feet is, don’t you?” This last point of the instructions came out of the so-called engineer’s mouth for the fourth time, along with bad breath and an unpleasant smell that emanated from his clothes which had specks of gun powder in several places. The boys didn’t know his real name but his reputation as ‘engineer’ was rock solid among the other members of the secret cell. No one ever questioned the logic of ...

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