Stories about spirituality

Trying to find a middle ground in religion, Three Daughters of Eve raises more questions than it answers

The most pressing concern of an individual confused about his/her belief or faith is the instinctive attraction towards spirituality or religiosity. The path towards righteousness is often met with confusion. Though there is some clarity, the confusion is always there. Elif Shafak’s recent novel, Three Daughters of Eve focuses on three main characters, categorised in the book as, the Sinner, the Believer and the Confused. It also focuses on the character of the professor. The book constantly moves between the past and present, and between the protagonists’ feelings of confusion, reasoning and clarity. The book primarily deals with the character of Peri, a ...

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How a visit to Baba Auliya’s shrine in Karachi made me feel human again

A sense of excitement ran through me as I set foot on the Pakistan’s soil. I was participating in the Urs celebrations of Qalandar Baba Auliya, the grand master and founder of Silsila Azeemiyya, commemorated every year on January 27th. In particular, the topic for the International Spiritual Workshop, ‘Man and Human’, had gripped my attention, as I had not seen them as two different points of existence. As I was driven through the streets of Karachi, my heart paced in anticipation of meeting the current patriarch of the Silsila, Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeemi, a renowned Sufi saint and spiritual scholar. Setting foot into ...

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Konya: The city of legacies, spirituality and Rumi

As we returned home from our trip to Uzbekistan last year, we kept aside four days in Istanbul to break the journey. Since we had already travelled to Istanbul previously, we decided to spend some time in Konya, which is the burial place of celebrated scholar and Sufi poet, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. Situated in the heart of Turkey, Konya is very well connected to the world by road, high-speed rail, and air. We had made our reservations to reach Konya from Istanbul via Pegasus Airlines, one of the no-frills Turkish airlines where the return fare from Istanbul was $50 per person. The airline operates from ...

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One year on: It only took a moment for one abominable act to alter Sehwan Sharif’s surrealism and serenity

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi Dhum, dhum, dhum… The drumbeat started plaintively at dusk. I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. As I turned around, the sights were to behold – orange, purple, yellow, green and blue fairy lights adorned the tomb, creating a riot of colours. The chadors (cloth) being handed out for draping around our necks were lal (red), the colour attributed to the Saint. It wasn’t just the sights and sounds that were captivating; incense sticks generated a pleasant aroma. Typically, I would’ve ...

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“Baji, why does Master ji not give me the same kind of attention he gives to Hira?”

She was bathed in my perfume when I entered the room. “Baji, there was some stench coming from the store room; that’s why I was using it.” She is the daughter of our housekeeper; hardly 12, with dark skin, sharp features, huge, sparkly eyes, and an innocent face. Her mother asked me to help her with her studies and I loved to teach her. She was such a bright student who wanted to learn as much as she could. But for some time now, I was noticing a devastating change in her personality; a lack of interest in her studies, a sudden interest in the latest ...

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Ben-Hur: A disaster of biblical proportions

Oh my god! What have they done? Why would anyone in their right mind go about screwing with a universal classic? But you can’t really talk sense with Hollywood, now can you? You can instantly tell how bad a remake is if one of the action sequences replicated from its 50s version is not even half as good as its predecessor. Heck! Even the one gracing the 20s variant was light years ahead of the current monstrosity. Toby Kebbell and Pilou AsbækPhoto: IMDb Jack HustonPhoto: IMDb Grandeur, miracles, spirituality, poetic revenge, homoeroticism, and horses that are trying ...

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‘Gurus’ like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Ramdev are a bad influence on society

Spirituality is no guarantee of salvation; it does not make you immune to the ordinariness of life. The yellow garb or white robe does not lift you from your prejudices and pettiness. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Ramdev, the popular spiritual gurus of India with a large following have proved this point. Their conduct establishes how they have made spirituality a business, a resource that is exploited to get closer to political power. They use their support base as a constituency to strike a bargain with the ruling class and indulge in political brinkmanship. A spiritual guru is normally silent and maintains ...

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Did Coldplay’s video misappropriate India?

There has been some angst, both in the West and in India, about Coldplay’s latest and very beautiful video, Hymn For The Weekend. The video is being criticised by some for ‘cultural appropriation’. In this whole controversy, the west and the east have their own respective angles for their criticisms. In the west, the main argument behind the condemnation that some have expressed is that western artists should not incorporate popular art, imagery, looks, character types, and scenes representing the non-western world, because doing so constitutes an unethical appropriation of the cultural patrimony of the third-world ‘South’. This argument lacks substance. ...

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Her grief devastated her, but his destroyed her

They weren’t dizygotic twins, or even twins, let alone siblings, yet they were so alike. But how could it be? Their birth was separated by 1,860 days. Maybe, they were an extension of one another. She sat across the table from him, with a hot cup of hazelnut cappuccino that she gripped with both her hands as she saw his smile belie his mood. But there was something about that very smile. Or maybe it was less about him than it was about her. It was the magic that transpired in her mind as she engaged in a quotidian conversation, eyeing ...

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“Practicing Islam in Short Shorts”: A passionate response to its critics

If you haven’t already read “Practicing Islam in Short Shorts” by Thanaa El-Naggar that went viral last week, now would be a good time to do so. The article is so well written and so meaningful that it was nothing short of a breath of fresh air; it was like her voice was speaking directly to my soul, almost as if applying cold balm to my wounds. Here was a young Muslim woman narrating her spiritual journey of how she transcended hollow religiosity, liberating herself from the chains of organised religion. Previously being a conservative minded Muslim myself, I felt ...

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