Saturday, March 20, 2010
Sunday, December 20, 2009
T2F 2.0 is back!
Science Ka Adda — Salman Hameed, from Hampshire College, is here to start the days off with a new lecture on "Humans in the Cosmos: How 400 Years Of Telescopes Have Changed The Way We Look at Ourselves!" … Don't forget to see this startling talk (on December 22nd at 6.30 pm) by a brilliant young man.
Not into Science? Hmmm ... take a trip and see what you'd been missing! There's an exhibit of some of Pedro Meyer's beautiful work. And brilliant Coffee and other stuff. Books to buy … and many even to read at the studio upstairs. Music, too: It's soft and does not hurt your years. Urdu (and English) poetry, literature and more stuff to go. Coming to you soon.
Ohhh … if you are an Entrepreneur, there are seats for you, too, on a short/long term basis (just 5, though). A sponsor? A quick event? There's more … you know!
Drop in …
Monday, December 07, 2009
Tie 2 …
OK. So now I am well enough and I thought I'd start writing.
Once a week, though. At least until something really industrious comes along.
To start with, lemme go back to the 24th of October.
The topic: Blasphemy Ordinance - Do We Want Them Removed
6.20: About 10 mins to go
So, there I was.
Nuzhat and Sabeen.
A couple of oddball friends and relatives.
… but then people gathered up and the hall, around an hour or so later, was filling up. Soon, there were enough in the hallway to make sure it was full.
Everyone spoke well … including even the poor 'office' girl. But the delight of the evening was dear old Bhagwandas. Naasikh and Meer and tons more … Yayyyy!
General discussion ended with the consensus that no way does it seem likely to be done away with ... but ... a lot of its integrity can be resolved.
So, around 9+, Nuzhat, Sabeen, and I moved on to our house, ready to change (Sabeen still making up her mind, though) and we decided to have dinner.
Dinner done, I walked up to my room where Sabizak's little note asked when I'd be around. "In a while", I said. Then moved to the bedroom when I 'felt' a little chakkar and decided to lie down. That's when I felt a little more. So I decided to stand up and stay the other way …
… and suddenly I realized I was 'ON'!
In the next few moments I was not quite as conscious - well, kinda - so the events that took place are a bit transfused, but Shamim (the surgeon who lives opposite), Sabeen (who'd phoned up to say she was ready to go and was told to come over with an ambulance), the surgeon's wife, an antihistamine ( Old? Maybe! Let's try it! … No, it didn't do anything!!! ), Sabeen's arrival (still trying to get an ambulance), my insistence that I want to go to NICVD as fast as possible (at Aga Khan I'd probably die crawling under a stampede) … all this was lost somewhere around my constant feeling that I wanted to go to the bathroom.
Shamim had checked out his BP instrument and, as usual, seemed pretty sure that I was not likely to last - something that a pair of good earphones will put right for him. He also felt that my pulse was nearly 'zero' but kept on looking at me and saying 'Forty haé ...'.
But he was ready to stop me from going over to the loo. Nuz, too, had wanted to stop me … but, finally, she forced Shamim and [together] they drove me to the WC.
Lasted 2 mins!!! I was out, cold.
Lying on the floor, I was dragged back to the place near the bed.
Dunno if the closure lasted 2 mins or 5 ... who knows. But there I was … ready, willing, and able! Up again, with my ageless rhythm, it had to be the loo. So, there I was, dragging my feet all across the floor. Twenty feet to the WC, angry, angst, wanting to go, and there I now was. Nuzhat had finally decided to let me go on. On the floor to the commode I suddenly discovered I had enough strength to drag myself and get around to sit. [There was 'much' to be done. Loads of shit. Amples of clearance. Much water. But still …]
The trip to the loo was wonderful. I got up and, partly stretched across Nuzhat's body, I went all the way back to the bed and lay down upon it. On the way I only thought 3 times, in very quick succession, that Ragni should be here to see me go. Or stay. But I do need her.
And then I went back upon the bed and snored.
Down the stairway, down into the parking lot, up into the ambulance … all these passages seemed little until we went up into the hallway where a hundred doctors, patients, nurses, attendants, all created a noise. I reopened my eyes once and was told that the efforts were good. I was very likely going to survive.
(Oh, I did see a rather 'cute nurse' ... but, later, much much later, it turned out to be my friend Insiya.)
Just a few moments, as soon as I was taken into my CMU, I told Nuzhat that we had to call Ragni otherwise she is likely to see this on the net. People were told to stay off the net (including one gentleman who also said that on the net!).
Soon I heard Ragni's voice and was glad …
That was my day!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Kaesay Kaesay Loag - Revelations (2)
Apologies for the delay ... but I did finally find the time to scan and edit things to put up and, so, as they customarily say at functions (but usually before making a long-winded introductory speech - which I've already done via the last two posts, anyway) I shan't come between you and the poet.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Kaesay Kaesay Loag - Revelations (1)
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Kaesay Kaesay Loag - The Teaser
[Are these names real? Well, only Samad's has been changed. As Vonnegut stated on the opening page of Fates Worse Than Death, "No names have been changed to protect the innocent, since God Almighty protects the innocent as a matter of Heavenly routine."]
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Happy Independence Day?
Rather than write about my feelings (actually I feel kind of numb), I would like - once again - to share those of my friend, Naeem 'Warrior' Sadiq, the full-time working arm of the collective conscience of some of us.
I decided not to celebrate the 14th August this year, to record my personal grief, shame and solidarity with the innocent citizens of Gojra, who were killed , wounded and burnt, for belonging to the same God, but a different religion. In my room I will fly the Pakistan flag at half mast, I will put my TV off, have none of those “milli naghmey” and sing no national anthem. I am sad, ashamed and distressed. I will call up all my Christian friends to say I am deeply sorry and I apologise.Pakistan at 62: How different is it from Pakistan at 2?
I do not wish to celebrate the birthdays of a land where the Mullahs spread hate from the minarets of their mosques. Where 20,000 Muslims unite to kill a few hundred Christian men, women and children. Where the administration provides bullet-proof vehicles and multi-layer protection to its leaders but will do nothing to protect the life and property of its ordinary citizens. I am ashamed that not one person, the CM, the PM, the Governor or the President resigned from his job as an admission of failure to perform their primary duty.
There are plenty of flags, parades, speeches and ceremonies, but no real sense of guilt, remorse, or reform. The Dawn newspaper alone has 24 ‘ad’ nauseam ads, sponsored by the government departments, with the tax payers’ money, most carrying the pictures of four members of the same family. All under the garb of a “Happy Birthday to you, dear Pakistan”. The theft and plunder of peoples’ money does not pause for rest, even on the 14th day of August. Should not a state, at a minimum, protect the life and property of all its citizens, to deserve ‘a happy birthday’.
Not very much, I guess, in matters that really matter. From Leaders to Facebookers, from the Steeple to Tweeple, everyone is still asking others to do something for Pakistan, even if it is just to superficially 'go green' by changing your display picture.
In 1949, when I was almost 9 and Pakistan had just turned 2, Abi (my father, Azhar Kidvai) wrote a poem that he read out on at a small mushaaerah celebrating Independence Day. While the rest of the poem was simple and understable enough at that age, too, it was the brief section of it that contained an anecdote I found very amusing and read it often enough to have it permanently etched in mind. Listen to me reciting it for my daughter, Ragni, a few years ago.
Random thoughts that occurred as I read about the Jaswant Singh book
• As I commented on Fawad Zakariya's FB, the one conclusion that I strongly subscribe to - and have always held - is that the Muslims of the subcontinent have been the greatest losers because of the Partition of India.
• It is obvious that had Pandit Nehru and others accepted certain demands, the Quaid - with his fairly strong commitment to Hindu-Muslim Unity - would not have had any reason to press on for Pakistan.
[BTW, I have never quite understood how one can support the concept of Democracy and, then, expect a larger than democratic share in the cake.]
• Pakistan was forged out of the fears of a Muslim minority. Whether they were real, perceived, or instigated (by the Pakistan Ka Matlab Kyaa brand of sloganism that introduced religiosity into the equation) is of no consequence.
[Incidentally, this is one of the the major reason for the tragic state we find ourselves in, because those who have attained security (the Feudals, the Rich-by-any-means, the Theocracy, and others in power deceptively usurped) have no more 'fears' and, so, are no longer concerned about the needs or insecurities of the rest.]
• Much as the Two-Nation Theory may have attempted to shape them artificially, this 'nation' (and a separate State for it) were certainly not created on the basis of common aspirations - the key ingredient that defines real nations.
[Had the usually touted ingredients for nationhood - the commonality of religion, language, heritage, culture, and, preferably, geographical contiguity - been of any real consequence, there would have been one large Arab state, or, at least, an attempt to push for one.]
• Nations (the American Nation is just one example) continue to exist, despite their many diversities in these matters, as long as they more-or-less share the larger vision for a common future.
• I anxiously await a book from a Pakistani writer that re-visits Gandhiji in the same way: criticism, yes - demonization, no!
Sunday, August 02, 2009
What the hell is wrong with our people?
The Gojra killings, in which the Christian minority has been targeted, are not an isolated incident. The fascistic attitude of several religious groups has become a scar on the face of Pakistan and, if not checked, will disfigure it beyond recognition.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Despite the best of intentions, dear Irfan …
… you've obviously hit some wrong nerves, too. Your article was forwarded to me by a friend, J W Zubery, with these positive words:
I was quite pleasantly surprised to read Irfan Husain's column this morning in Dawn. Why dont we have more like him? sanity is a rarity now. Intolerance is the order of the day. I wonder why do we always shy away from reality.. It is so rare to see someone accept the truth and speak loud and clear. We have built huge walls of umpteen taboos around us and believe that by looking in the opposite direction, reality would just disappear as if it never existed. In the midst of all the nonsense we have to hear and read, there is some freshness also ... Bravo Irfan Husain!
Life in the twilight zoneBy Irfan HusainDAWN | Saturday, 18 Jul, 2009 | 04:21 AM PST |Just last week, the New Delhi High Court ruled that homosexuality was legal.To mark this historic judgment, Jawed Naqvi wrote a wonderful column in this newspaper in which he gave cultural and historical references to establish that traditionally the subcontinent has been hospitable to alternate sexual preferences. It was only the hypocritical Victorian colonists who imposed laws criminalising gay sex.Reading his article, I mused to myself that it would probably take Pakistani courts years to reach a similarly rational conclusion. How wrong I was. Now, our Supreme Court has observed that being equal citizens of Pakistan, hermaphrodites must have equal benefits and protection under Articles four and nine of the constitution.Although the plea to constitute a commission to study the plight of these unfortunate people, many of them also grappling with issues of documentation when it comes to their identity, continues to be heard, just the fact that the three-member bench headed by the chief justice appears to be sympathetic is encouraging. I use the word ‘unfortunate’ to describe them because in Pakistan, those who publicly deviate from usual behaviour patterns do so at their own risk.For years, hijras have existed on the fringes of society, occupying a twilight zone few of us would like to explore. Abused, ostracised and shunned, they are barely visible, caricatured and mocked by men and women alike. For no fault of their own, they have been forced into prostitution and dancing for a living, unable to get an education and become productive members of society.The prejudice and the confusion that clouds public perceptions are evident in references to them as hermaphrodites and transvestites, as though both terms are applicable.In actual fact, the term ‘transvestite’ refers to people who dress as members of the opposite sex, while hermaphrodites refers to people born with both sexual organs. In the latter category, the male organ is often under-developed. Hijras are almost invariably hermaphrodites.Surely differences in appearances and sexuality should be accepted. Why are people who behave and dress differently ostracised? Surely we cannot blame them for the difference in their genetic make-up over which they have no control.Unfortunately, over the years, Pakistan has become an increasingly monochromatic culture in which any deviation is frowned upon. In dress and outer appearance, there is growing pressure to conform. The space to explore alternate lifestyles is being relentlessly squeezed by the morality brigade in the name of faith.While the ongoing court hearings relate to a specific community, it is high time we questioned our attitudes towards the larger picture. The same law that was struck down by the Delhi High Court is applicable in Pakistan. It continues to destroy lives decades after similar discriminatory laws were deemed unconstitutional in Britain.Apart from the letter of the law, our hypocritical society prefers to hide any signs of differences under the carpet. Which family would wish to admit that their children were gay? And yet we all know that every social class and category, and every ethnic group has its share of gay members lurking in the closet.But in a country where so many groups suffer from discrimination and oppression, I suppose those with different sexual orientations in our midst must bear their cross in silence. Minorities and women are generally treated as second-class citizens. In religion too, different sects deem the other as being outside the faith. So it is hardly surprising that people with a different sexual orientation should be targeted.Appearing before the Supreme Court, two hijras described the harassment and abuse they often had to endure. The police as well as their ‘gurus’ exploited them. They had been abandoned by their parents as infants, and brought up by strangers who then forced them into prostitution and begging. Surely none of this is in accordance with the tenets of the majority faith.It is now universally accepted that homosexuality is most often the result of genetic differences, and not a personal preference. Major studies have shown that two to three per cent of the world’s population are born homosexual. In Pakistan, this translates to roughly four to five million men and women forced to conceal their sexual orientation for fear of persecution by an intolerant society. That’s a lot of people in the twilight zone.In more civilised countries that have finally come to accept alternate sexual preferences, those subscribing to the latter variety have joined the mainstream, and are contributing to society in many creative ways. In the arts, fashion and the media, in particular, their impact has been massive. But they are accepted in all professions, including the armed forces. In Mohammed Hanif’s wonderful novel The Case of the Exploding Mangoes, the author has described a gay relationship in Pakistan’s air force academy. While this is a work of fiction, I am sure it is a reflection of the reality at some level.In a country beset by so many problems, it may seem odd that I have chosen to write about this issue. But a major reason why we are caught up in an unending series of crises is that we are becoming an increasingly intolerant society. Instead of seeing the threats facing us as simply physical, we need to step back and examine ourselves as we truly are. More and more, we demand conformity and reject any attempt by individuals to be themselves when their lifestyle goes against the norm, whatever that is.Until we can learn to respect differences, even if they offend us, we will continue to be our own worst enemies.
Newsbyte: Bindiya - an admirable hijra activist (she was the subject of my daughter Ragni's short documentary and was at T2F to discuss the problems the community faces) - has just informed me that Pakistani ID Cards now allow 3rd Gender to be written on them instead of the previous forced binary option of Male/Female. The new term, like 6th Sense being used for everything outside the 5 senses, obviously encompasses and clumps together all other genders beyond the two.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
A Tale of Three Tales
Nuzhat's father, whom I called Mamooñ Jaan, frequently regaled us with amazing tales that were often hilarious and almost always embellished for the sake of the telling, something that a storyteller's craft demands. Also, his stories were never-ending, because - like those of Schehrezade - they always spun off (or had the potential to do so) into several more.
Over half a century ago he once narrated to us how, having had his car hubcaps stolen in Calcutta, he was told by people to visit چور بازار (=Thieves Market). Even before the actual tale began, I seemed perplexed at the thought that a place with such a name, albeit 'unofficial', could exist. Years later, I was even more shocked when I visited Calcutta and heard my sights-guide rickshaw driver point out to a police station as the Chor Bazaar Thaanah!
But, like Mamooñ Jaan, I digress… so, back to his story: Assuming that the area would have a horde of stolen goods in some nooks and crannies, he was amused to find that most shops specialized in specific types of goods and, upon enquiry, was led to the 'motor parts section' and, thence, to the 'hubcaps subsection'! He was disappointed as, not too surprisingly, he couldn't see many Citroën hubcaps around. He was asked by the shopkeeper when the hubcaps had been stolen and when he said "Yesterday …" he was told, "Voh maal to Jum'araat ko aaye gaa" (="That stuff will come in on Thursday").
We found a criminal system being so organized - and so open about itself - really funny. Even at every retelling. (Yes, there were many!)
It was also at Nuzhat's house that I met her 'Sheefi Bhai' - the son of some friends so close to her family that, for all practical purposes, he is considered a cousin. Sheefi - and he was not being satirical - once called Pakistan's Police Force more efficient than those of the rest of the world. The latter, he felt, had to resort to painstakingly track down criminals. "Our police people", he told us, straight-facedly and with obvious awe, "know who has committed the crime. They just are unable to catch them!"
"No Comment" (but only because ROTFLMAO wasn't known then!)
This morning Nuzhat was unable to control her laughter as I read out a front-page story from The News International's City Section.
Here's my annotated abbreviated version (with a link to the full story):
Two gangs of Bengali robbers clashed with each other in Korangi area late Thursday night over territorial jurisdiction (Interesting that illegal immigrants should fight to death over territories that are not legally theirs, in the first place.) …
According to the police, [two Bengali gang-leaders have] been operating in Sector 50-C, 100-Quarters, Korangi in Zaman Town police limits for the past several years. (So why haven't they been stopped?) …
The area is reportedly inhabited by more than 100,000 illegal Bengali immigrants (Ok, so we now have a load of people engaged in illegal and criminal activities and we have them in one corralled space. So what are we waiting for? An independence movement so that we can arrest them for treason?), but the activities of both gangs had the police chasing after them since a long time (errr ---- but? you mean the police were after them despite their illegal activities? How odd!) …
The police said that when they were informed about the clash, they immediately reached the scene of crime, but due to the narrow lanes in the area, they could not enter. (May I suggest that, next time, we don't send fat policemen?). After several hours, the police managed to enter […] with the help of [an] Armoured Personnel Carrier (OMG: Does this mean that the policemen sent earlier were even fatter than the APC which seems to have gotten through.) …
Officials concerned meanwhile fear that if both these network are not clamped upon (By whom, dear officials? Aren't you supposed to do that?), the area might face a Lyari-like gang war since both Alam and Shakoor commanded the vast support of the Bengalis residing in the area. This apprehension is not [without] reason, as both men had been close friends in the past and used to rob citizens passing through the industrial area together, while also committing house robberies and killing people who resisted. Shakoor Bengali also used to sell narcotics in the area. (Wow! The Police certainly keep a tab on everything. Guess it's needed for their records. No action, of course, was needed to be taken after obtaining all this info.) …
Alam Bengali is said to be very close to Rehman Dakait [=Dacoit] of Lyari, who used to support him on various occasions. Most arms used by Alam Bengali were provided by Rehman Dakait, which included rifles, Kalashnikovs and repeaters. Whenever the police conducted an operation in Lyari, Rehman Dakait used to send his men to Alam’s den in Korangi for shelter. Similarly, when the police operated against Alam Bengali group, Alam and his accomplices found refuge in Dakait’s dens in Lyari. (I REPEAT LOUDLY: Wow! The Police certainly keep a tab on everything. Guess it's needed for their records. No action, of course, was needed to be taken after obtaining all this info.) …
Police officials had decided to launch a grand operation against the criminals, but on late Thursday night, a fierce clash erupted between the two notorious gangs (ANOTHER REPEAT: errr ---- but?) …
The area remained tense till the filing of this report. (I am tense, too, as should all peace-loving folk be. However, I am ambivalent about who worries me more: The gangs or the police. That is, of course, if they are different entities.)
But, seriously, what could be the reason for this confusing state of affairs???
Oh ... and Sheefi: You win!
Friday, May 29, 2009
For Maleeha Azeem
Friday, May 08, 2009
Arundhati Roy drops in …
She was scheduled to deliver the Eqbal Ahmad Memorial Lecture in Lahore, along with Eqbal's close friend, Noam Chomsky. The event got postponed because of some reason or the other and AR decided, on a day's notice, when requested by Women's Action Forum, to utilize her visa and fly over to take part in WAF's event at the Karachi Press Club: Women Reclaiming Public Spaces.
PS: 8th May was also our 39th Wedding Anniversary - so we couldn't have asked for a better gift!
Sunday, May 03, 2009
A Tale of Two Anthems
Aé sarzameené paakZarray teray haéñ aaj sitaaroñ se taabnaakRoshan haé kehkashaañ se kaheeñ aaj tayree khaakAé sarzameené paak
اے سرزمینِ پاكذرّے ترے ہیں آج ستاروں سے تابناكروشن ہے كہكشاں سے كہیں آج تیری خاكاے سرزمینِ پاك
O' pure land,your every particle is more luminous than the stars.Your dust is brighter than the Milky Way.O' Pure Land
These are the only lines I can recall from Pakistan's FIRST National Anthem. It was written by the then Lahore-based poet, Jagannath Azad, in response to the Quaid's wish that our Anthem be written by a non-Muslim to underscore the vision of a secular Pakistan. The current Anthem (which includes the phrase Saayaé Khüdaaé Züljalaal that, now, apparently bristles some) was adopted just a few years later.
Can anyone help dig up the rest of the original?
While on the subject of the Anthem, people around my age may remember its majestic sound from the days of our youth. The richness of the band due so much, I guess, to the sounds of the instruments of that time - as well as the chorus version - has long disappeared, to be replaced by a relatively uninspiring re-recorded sound that leaves me cold.
Thanks to our finest composer-arranger-musician Arshad Mahmood's direction, and a brilliant recreation by the children of Karachi High School, you can download and hear that majesty again in this recording.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Laugh a while ... there may be a lot to cry about soon!
1. Each time I hear one of our boozing, womanizing, murderous, hypocritical leaders speak of Islam I am reminded of Dilawar Figar:
Agarcheh poora Musalmaan to naheeñ laykin
Maeñ Apnay deen se rishtah to jo∂ saktaa hooñ
Namaaz-o-Rozah-Hajj-o-Zakaat küchh nah sahee
Shabé Baraat pataakhah to chho∂ saktaa hooñ
2. Alexandre Dumas provided the perfect reason for voting PPP or MQM (or even, horror of horrors, JI and JUI) instead of Imran Khan &c or Nawaz Sharif &c when he said, "Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest."
3. T2F's ex-Landlord is, like many of my friends, a mohaajir Pathan from the UP, so I've been wondering if the current situation in Karachi demands that he shoot himself!
4. I close with another Dilawar Figar gem of which I was reminded by the recent arrest of 'miscreants':
Iss khabar par to naheeñ müjh ko ta'ajjüb, Ae Figar:
Ayk ghündah halqaé Lahore mayñ pak∂aa gayaa.
Haañ, agar tho∂ee si haerat haé, to voh iss baat par:
Kaésa ghündah thaa ke jo iss daur mayñ pak∂aa gayaa?
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Some believe that history repeats itself. Their opponents contend that it is nothing more than a nice sounding bit of rhetoric.
But one woman's legendary effort to stop the Peloponnesian War has become part of historical theatre. Translated into several languages, Lysistrata is one of the most staged plays. An Urdu version has even been performed in Pakistan by Sheema Kermani and her Tehrik-e-Niswan group.
Now, at least that part of of history seems to be repeating itself, as this BBC news item shows:
Kenyan women hit men with sex banArmy wives in India and Pakistan: Here's your chance to make a REAL contribution!
Women's activist groups in Kenya have slapped their partners with a week-long sex ban in protest over the infighting plaguing the national unity government.
The Women's Development Organisation coalition said they would also pay prostitutes to join their strike.
The campaigners are asking the wives of the Kenyan president and the prime minister to join in the embargo.
They say they want to avoid a repeat of the violence which convulsed the country after the late-2007 elections.
Relations between Kenya's coalition partners, led by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, have become increasingly acrimonious.
Now the dispute has moved to the nation's bedrooms.
Lead from the front
Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), one of the organisations in the campaign, said they hoped the seven-day sex ban would force the squabbling rivals to make up.
She said the campaign would start from her bedroom and that emissaries had been sent to the two leaders' wives, Ida Odinga and Lucy Kibaki, urging them to join in and lead from the front.
"Even commercial sex workers should join in the campaign which is so vital to the country," Mrs Nyaundi told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
"Great decisions are made during pillow talk, so we are asking the two ladies at that intimate moment to ask their husbands: 'Darling can you do something for Kenya?'"
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Just what IS Shariah?
Given the extremes of our society and the Muslim Ümmah, it seems impossible for the average person to go beyond just the emotional outbursts for or against the imposition of the Shariah.
OK. As I understand it (and I am absolutely open to correction):
1. Qur'an is something that Muslims (generally - for I am beginning to see fissures here, too, and not just of 'interpretation') are agreed upon as The Source that all Muslims follow.
2. The Qur'an states that, other than Itself, Muslims follow the Sünnah — The Way of the Prophet (again, many people mistake the Hadith as being an intrinsic part of the Sünnah ... but I would want to stay, for the sake of this discussion, with the clear-cut distinction of the terms).
3. The Hadith — with all it's shades from Zaeef to Qavi, and the even more arbitrary term, Qüdsi — raises many questions, and not merely of authenticity (when one finds even the Saheehs containing highly doubtful and debatable passages). I am more concerned with the Qur'an claiming, on the one hand, that it is 'simple to understand' and, on the other, believers claiming that it is all but impossible to understand without the Hadith. I just wish that Allah's "followers" would at least accept that He knows better.
Remember, the Qur'an was being recited and preached in the marketplace and was being effective in converting audiences that included the illiterate and non-Arabs, so it could hardly be in an exclusive, high-flown, philosophy-ridddled language — a premise that some modern translators are beginning to consider.As for the Hadith, here are some Qur'anic references to ponder. Forget how pro-Hadith translators have tried to 'cover up' by translating at is 'stories' or 'legends' or whatever … keep the Arabic before you and notice the use of the word, 'Hadith', or it's dervatives in the 'original'. (Surely, there are several words for stories and anecdotes in Arabic, a very rich language, but - just as surely - Allah must have reason to use a particular word is used at a specific instance.)
S45/A6-7 Such are the Signs of God, which We rehearse to thee in Truth; then in what Hadith will they believe after God and His Signs?
S31/A6 And among men are those who follow, instead, frivolous Hadith, diverting others from the path of Allah without knowledge … These have incurred a shameful retribution.
On at least a couple of other occasions this (or a minor variation) occurs: fabi ayyi hadeethin ba'adahu yu'minoon (= Which Hadith, beside this, do they believe in?)
4. The Fiq'ah: Mainly refers to legalistic interpretations by FIVE accepted faqeehs - FOUR among the Sünnis and ONE among the Shiaas.
I have often wondered why DID the Ümmah stop at five? I mean, the "accepted five" were explaining things, to the best of their ability and with good intent, but according to their times and personal müshaahidaat (hence the makroohaat, for example). So why can't there be a modern 'faqeeh', for our times, based on several further centuries of human experience, rather than mere splinter groups identifying themselves within the fiqah of one of these five?
And what of Ijtehaad?
So, the questions is, "Is the Shariah a combination of all of the above? Or a mere concoction by theocratic forces … to be interpreted for political gains and throttling 'opposition' however/whenever?"
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
On the Taliboom's Pro-Love Marriage Stance
Swat Taliban promote ‘love marriages’
(The News, April 19, 2009) - via Adil Najam's ATP
The Taliban of Swat have set up a bureau named ‘Shuba-e-Aroosat’ for arranging love marriages of couples who are denied the marriage of choice by their families for one reason or the other, reports BBC Urdu Service. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the marriage bureau headed by Taliban Commander Abu Ammad arranged 11 ‘love marriages’ in the last nine days while 300 girls and boys are waiting for their turn. “The love marriage aspirants contact the bureau on a fixed telephone number. The Taliban collect their particulars and then contact their familites to arrange these choice marriages,” he said, adding that Islam allows every adult to get marry according to his/her own choice. He said, “Most of the girls, or their families, who contacted us wish to marry ‘militant’ Taliban.” Analysts say the Taliban are paving the way for themselves to marry the girls of their choice. It is really strange that they flog the couples on one hand for moving together while on the other hand allow young couples to marry according to their choice. Also the question arises how is it possible for a boy or girl to propose while they have not seen each other, reports BBC Urdu Service.Whoaaa!
Haé zann hee pasé pardah, faqat lab peh Khüdaa hae
Talib haeñ yeh kiss cheez ke, yeh aaj khülaa haé
Inn par na hañso tüm, keh bohat yeh bhi haé yaaro
Sad shükr koee aaj sooé-zann* to huaa haé
* Since the punning is aural, I decided to leave it in the romanized style.
Note: It's never fun trying to explain jokes, but when one is part of a nation so unfamiliar with it's National Language that one needs to ask before making a presentation or taking a class whether they understand it, I guess one should.
The last class I interacted with 3 days ago - Class VIII students mainly from mid-income families - unanimously said they'd rather I spoke in English. And this in Karachi, the home of the 'muhaajir'. Haah!
I did get the same reaction in Lahore, but only at a very elite rich-brat school (mainly from its richer, brattier teachers!) although I think Aitchison and LUMS would not have reacted this way, for I find that their students speak Urdu reasonably well (or, at least, frequently).Hence, here's a somewhat justifiiable - rather than presumptuous - effort at an Urdu Lesson :-) for those wishing to understand the 'double-pun'. Here are the 4 components:
soo' (seen | vaao | hamzah) = kharaabi / evil
zann (zoé | noon) = gümaan / conjecture
⁂ سوِٰظَن sooé zann = the evil of conjecture
soo (seen vaao) = taraf / direction
zann (zay noon) = aurat / woman
⁂ سوٰے زَن sooé zann = towards women
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Iqbal Bano: You will be greatly missed!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Beyond the Flogging-Video Debate
Lo and behold. Nizaamé Adl has arrived in at least one part of the country - and promises (threatens - if you do not agree with this version) to come soon to a location near you.
It's no longer, then, just the matter of a debate between blogger Sabizak, who responded strongly and sensibly to what was probably the Urdu version of an email from Anila Weldon that has been doing the usual rounds. Read them both, if you haven't already.
My only comment on AW's email - since Sabizak and many others have already responded to most of this and similar views - is about the line that says "Nowhere in the world does one react to a video specially the one made on a handy camera..."The debate has raged much more widely for the past few days on every conceivable electronic and print forum. Even Taliban spokesmen (no point in ever using 'spokespersons' in their context!) seem confused. Appearing on different TV channels they - (and even the same person on different occasions) - alternately share the views held by Anila and others who feel that the video is fake and, in other interviews, defiantly stand their ground and defend the flogging.
Hmmmm. Really, Anila? Remember Rodney King?
A senior Tehreeké Taliban leader, Muslim Khan sahab, not only did not consider challenging the authenticity of the video but also went so far as to say that the girl was lucky she was only flogged because of insufficient evidence!!! Had full proof been available, she would have been stoned. Watch his interview.
This is definitely a first! I've never heard that under any system - much less under one that aligns itself with a divinely inspired one - an unproven crime, gets a reduced sentence. Will the new spate of Qazis make statements like, "Err .. we can't prove theft, but, hmmm, the guy kinda does look suspicious. I'd say let's just get his pinkie this time." - ?
The same maulana, in the opening statement of the above linked video, also criticizes the way the punishment was given, because it was meted out in full public view and not inside the house. Soddy Arabians would beg to differ. They stone to death or behead in public, based on the Qurãnic injunction quoted in an interview by journalist Ansar Abbasi that says people must view the punishment.
"My own take is that if the video is fake, the creators certainly went through a lot of unnecessary trouble staging this episode and then left mistakes in! Not the kind of thing proper film makers and editors are likely to slip up on, I imagine. I mean this has to be professional work, na? It couldn't be an amateur effort: Who'd pay for the 'extras' ... all those people, including kids, standing around? I am surprised all the critics missed out on the possibility of there being a man under that bürqa. Or is that only done when an escape is desired?I, therefore, choose to stand by the following paragraph that appears at the end of NYT's editorial:
I know for a fact, as do you, that this kind of thing happens in real life all the time in areas under the Taliban … and much worse happens in Soddy Arabia in full public view. There is no restriction on filming it, nor should there be - after all the perpetrators are not ashamed but are actually proud of following what they think is Sharea or Islam."
"Many Pakistanis have wasted their time decrying the video as a conspiracy intended to defame Islam and Pakistan. They should be demanding that the army — Pakistan’s strongest and most functional institution — defend against an insurgency that increasingly threatens the state. Like their military and political leaders, Pakistan’s people are in a pernicious state of denial about where the real danger lies."Of course, it may already be too late. Threats to women activists have begun in more earnest than before, forcing some to retreat to safer spaces. Threats to women on the street have increased. People are already being jailed for not praying according to one news report on TV. (My friend, Dr. Shamim, an earnest Muslim, wonders if prayers uttered under the threat of jails are earnest and will be heard by God.)
Education - deemed essential to a country's future - is in a state of shambles in Talibanized areas and under threat everywhere. After razing 200 schools in one part of the country alone - and not just girls' schools that they claim to be a westernized idea - several schools in major cities have been given warnings.
The Taliban, as I glean from hearing some of them on TV, believe that the only education that Muslims (read 'men') need to undergo for a better life is an Islamic education. This seems to be at odds with the oft quoted hadees ('Go as far as China to seek knowledge'). For one, I do not see any mention of this being addressed to males, alone. For another, the Prophet was obviously suggesting that his followers study a lot more than just religious tomes. Unless China had an Islamic University at that time to which we were supposed to trek.
The puritan Takfiri ideology adopted by the Pakistani Taliban militants has repeatedly brought them to conflict with gaddi nashin, the descendants of Sufi saints who yield great political power in Pakistan.
Their ranks include Yusaf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the foreign minister.
To date, the conflict has been limited to gaddi nashin in the Khyber tribal agency, to the east of Peshawar, and Swat.
The commander of Lashkar-i-Islami, Mangal Bagh, had last year expelled Pir Saif-ur-Rehman, a gaddi nashin, after their followers fought armed battles. He now lives in exile in central Punjab province.
Lashkar-i-Islami continues to clash with followers of Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, another leader of Sufi followers in the Khyber Agency who has been appointed a junior minister in the federal cabinet.
The Swat Taliban faced their stiffest resistance from Pir Samiullah, a gaddi nashin who had formed a militia of followers and killed about 100 militants. He was shot dead in December in a battle with the Taliban, after army units called in for support went to the wrong location.
His corpse was exhumed by militants and put on display at the main square of Mingora, the capital of Swat region, to be buried later at an undisclosed location.
But, yes, they could rule through threats and the force of guns. After all our own military has done so over the same population for years.