Stories about tolerance

Rawalakot, Kashmir is known for its beauty but it should be recognised for its exceptional women

The sound of the phrase, “women are not allowed to work” was so unfamiliar to me, until I reached university. I grew up seeing progressive, working women, like my mother and other relatives, in the society. I am from a small town in Kashmir called Rawalakot, situated in the northern region of Pakistan. This area is known more for its beauty and less for its exceptional women. Women of this area are termed exceptional because despite the existence of an ingrained patriarchal society, they have paved way to be achievers in life. According to the annual socioeconomic report of Kashmir, Azad Jammu Kashmir at ...

Read Full Post

Coke Studio season 11 shows how beautifully diverse Pakistan is

In the midst of an agonising election season, and after the incredible success of Coke Studio Explorer, we just witnessed the release of the Coke Studio season 11 trailer. Leaving us utterly speechless with its ravishing and inclusive rendition of ‘Hum Dekhenge’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the song previewed many of the artists who will make their Coke Studio debut this season. Coke Studio has perhaps finally caught on to showcasing new artists that needed mainstream public attention for so long. These new artists are not only well-versed in their melodic symphonies, but also carry a cultural reminder, exemplifying what Pakistan’s ...

Read Full Post

India’s awakening: The end of Article 377 and the last shred of colonialism

One of the most glaring anomalies in the Indian legal landscape is Article 377, the 1861 law that criminalises gay sex. This law, inspired by Victorian era prudishness, should have no place in the India of 2018. The British, who created this law based on their values of that time, have now adopted much more liberal and progressive outlooks. Meanwhile, the Indian state has refused to move on. In fact, it has appropriated those archaic values and keeps them entrenched and alive in the country’s legal code. This is ironic, and perhaps tragic, because through the course of history, the Indic ...

Read Full Post

Why our mosque culture needs to change: An open letter to Masjid Aunties

Dear Masjid Aunties, It’s common for you to undermine people who don’t meet your religious standards, especially in a place of worship. Converts get pulled out of prayer by the arm for not praying with an abaya. Women are publicly shamed and bashed for not wearing the hijab correctly. If someone doesn’t regularly go to the mosque, they’re looked down upon. It’s sad, but it’s a rampant issue in the women’s section of the masjid (mosque). Informing someone about something advised against is fine, but please, do so respectfully. Women at the mosque judge and gossip amongst themselves. This mentality can be ...

Read Full Post

To eat or not to eat: If you support the ban on eating publically in Ramazan, your faith is weak

Ramazan is a one of the holiest months known to all Muslims. In fact, fasting in Ramazan stands as one of the five most important pillars of Islam; it is an essential act which makes up the religion. There are some very clear guidelines on how to act during this month in order for a person’s fast to be accepted and counted as successful. It is believed that during the fast, one should abstain from all bad deeds. A person fasting should not indulge in arguments and disputes nor use obscene language; should not show bad temper, should be ...

Read Full Post

“But he called me a thief” – should PTI’s opposition also assault Imran Khan for calling them worse?

After the incident that recently made headlines, where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Naeemul Haq can be seen slapping his opponent Daniyal Aziz on live television, Haq responded by saying, “Imran Khan praised me.” In an afterthought, he added, “No, he never appreciated the slap.” So did he actually appreciate you or not? Make up your mind! We need to know the answer, for this will tell us what the ‘Naya Pakistan’ is going to look like. We need to know if going forward a macho man persona will be the new currency, or whether some values of the old Pakistan, such as apologising after doing something wrong, ...

Read Full Post

Remembering Ahmad Faraz: Do not murder the voices

The 87th birthday of one of Pakistan’s most beloved poet – who was also a resistance poet par excellence – the legendary Ahmad Faraz, was celebrated on January 12th. The honour of both the Pakhtuns and Urdu-speaking community, I was lucky to hear him recite his famous poem ‘Muhaasra’ (siege) in one of his last public appearances in Karachi back in 2008. He joined the immortals soon afterwards on August 25, 2008. To pay tribute to his memory, here I am sharing my translation of one of my favourite Faraz poems, “Mat Qatl Karo Aavaazon Ko” (do not murder the voices), which it seems ...

Read Full Post

Why is it unacceptable for an American seventh grader to learn about Islam?

I can sit at my computer and read the news about what is happening in a remote shipping village in Australia, or find out about the latest political gaffe in Brazil or discover the new ‘Pineapple Pen’ phenomenon sweeping Japan, all at the convenient click of a button.  Globalisation and the overreaching powers of the internet have made all this possible and stuffed us with information overload. The ability to learn about new cultures, inventions and policies is boundless and never-ending. However, the ability to soak all this knowledge must be matched by a desire to learn. If ignorance, hatred ...

Read Full Post

Hush little bomb

Hush little bomb, You’ve done your work. Hush little bomb, Please hide that smirk.   Smother your fire, Please, just take a break. Leave the sky, Please, for humanity’s sake.   Don’t you see? The lives you’ve snatched? Don’t you feel? The anger you’ve hatched?   Hush little bomb, You’ve done your work. Hush little bomb, Please hide that smirk.   Silence your roar, Please, just lie on the ground. We have had enough, Please, not one more sound.   What have you done? You broke their lives in half, You crushed their bones, But here you sit and laugh.   Hush little bomb, You’ve done your work. Hush little bomb, Please hide that smirk.   Think of the blood, You’ve sprayed in our eyes. Think of the sorrow, You’ve thrown in our lives.   The hatred, the misery, It’s all because of you. The ...

Read Full Post

Yes, I am a cybercriminal

While trying to decipher governing policies of the world, I find that western countries are edging more towards moderation and tolerance while Muslim countries, on the other hand, are becoming more narrow-minded and intolerant. Pakistan has jumped onto the bandwagon of intolerance with the induction of its new cybercrime bill. In spite of various objections, criticisms, and numerous online and offline protests, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Technology forcefully approved the final draft of the cybercrime bill 2015, without making any amendments, and has sent it to the National Assembly for approval. The use of the word ‘forceful’ is due ...

Read Full Post