January 20, 2012 § 8 Comments
One of the oft-cited arguments by Muslims in addressing certain issues is the ‘Azaab theory.’ Of course no such formal theory exists and I have termed it thus for namesake only. What it necessarily entails is to first render a standpoint unfalsifiable, and then suddenly bring up a citation from the holy book as the proof of their truth. For instance, if a vile person is struck down by some natural calamity, they term it a sign from God or Azaab. When many vile persons lead their entire lives in debauchery and corruption and have a very happy ending at a cozy death-bed, Muslims would argue that God simply ‘let his rope loose’ so that he would indulge as much as he could and that for this, he will face the wrath of God in hell. The only problem with this is, obviously it is an unfalsifiable theory. You have an answer ready for both outcomes and you pitch one of them, as per the events.
But this is taken even further by certain ‘philosophic’ Muslims who tend to argue Islam against science or philosophy. For instance, Hamza Toru is hailed by many as a Muslim who can miraculously respond to all philosophical arguments and scientific proofs which negate religion. While I haven’t seen the recent debate between him and Professor Hoodbhoy that has been cited as ‘the triumph of religion’, I did have the opportunity to watch his brief talk with Mr. Dawkins. Here’s what I could grasp from it.
While Dawkins cited clear proofs of the process of evolution, Toru wanted to bring him to one single point, which he eventually did: how did the universe come into being? Of course this question is still unanswered by the science per se, although physically at a point where time’s value becomes zero, the instance becomes entirely irrelevant to us. But then, for argument sake, let’s consider it. Yes, science doesn’t have a definite answer to that. So? ‘Then that clearly means that there is a God since how can the universe come into being!! My holy book has an answer to what your science doesn’t!’ Toru resorts excitedly and rather triumphantly. Did that make sense? Of course not.
Look at it another way. A person walks over to me and says ‘what is smaller than zero.’ I tell him that mathematically, nothing can be smaller than zero. He says come on, how is that possible. When I insist that I have no answer to that, he tells me he read in such and such book about something that is smaller than zero and so, his book furnishes answer to questions that I, or science (mathematics), can’t answer. Logically, that’s an utterly stupid argument. The inability of science to answer certain question does not render illogical interpretations from other sources the more credible source of knowledge.
Also on the point of interpretations, the Muslim enthusiasts who pitch all the weirdest interpretations to prove a scientific fact, the pseudo-scientists like Haroon Yahya, they fail to tell this to their ardent fans that religious scriptures have been reinterpreted again and again over times to make them compliant with the ‘scientific facts’ of their age. It is precisely the abstract form of holy scriptures that allows for virtually infinite interpretations and that, by no means, qualifies as ‘the proof’ of foretold scientific wisdom!
Finally, to my Muslim friends who stubbornly insist that religion provided knowledge for scientific discoveries and then try to cite proofs from Moorish era: that is SUCH rubbish! Religion, at best, instigated Muslim to attain scientific knowledge and it was the enthusiasm that an intelligent theological environment provided which enabled them to make those scientific advancement in Spain. None of them ‘discovered’ ANYTHING from the holy book, at best they merely got their inspiration from Quran. The scientific knowledge came from the Greeks on which they built wisely. Naturally, with this mindset which seeks scientific answers, riddles, formulae, and revelations in the holy book, Muslims are bound to dwell in scientific ignobility.
January 5, 2012 § 9 Comments
Most of you would have seen slogans seething with hatred plastered across the walls all around Lahore and most highways of Punjab. As soon as Pakistan and India relations began to improve, obscure coalitions and unheard-of groups have suddenly jumped the bandwagon of anti-India sentiment. And the credit of it all goes to our very own group of Khudai Faujdars – Jamad-ud-Dawa (JuD).
Whereas most militant outfits have gone extinct or at least covert in their operations in a post-911 Pakistan, JuD continues to enjoy full liberty despite being a banned organization. It arranges rallies, has a huge area in Muredke as its headquarters and its leaders continue to spew venom and hatred in their Friday sermons and speeches at rallies. Support for JuD’s activities has certainly waned among common masses but apparently, ISI is not really ready to part from its chief proxy-war gurus of Kashmir insurgency.
And that can be easily seen in this recent tide of ‘apparent’ opposition to Pakistan-India relations. I say apparent because while a huge majority of Pakistan either doesn’t give a shit about what pacts are signed with India, so engrossed they are in their own local political and economic issues, the insignificant cretins who number in thousands continue to litter the walls all across Punjab to make an impact. And whether or not ISI is directly backing this ‘project’ is unimportant. The fact is that JuD’s rise to power has been hugely funded and assisted by ISI and our Arab patrons who, after doling out millions in their lavish harems, come to Pakistan to cleanse their sins off by funding Jihadi fighters. And they have a particular fondness for JuD since it conforms to the most rigid, fanatic interpretation of Islam, Wahabbism, a love it shares with Saudi Arabia in particular.
The current peace process with India doesn’t sit well with our military. Military wants to be regarded as the most important entity in Pakistan, a status it has achieved through perpetuating war, rigging political process and influencing media. And it doesn’t want to let go of this status, since that may also mean budgetary cuts once everyone is finally sure that we are in peacetime, quite contrary to what army will have us believe. And so, as soon as an important milestone is achieved in peace process with India, suddenly one of the political hubs of Pakistan is ‘charged’ with anti-India sentiment. However, the turn-out at these rallies pretty much shows what strength an extremist organization has, even in a country riddled with religious fervor – numbered in thousands and most of them being the jihadi members of the organizations, shipped from all parts of Pakistan, they carry little significant anymore. But the depressing fact is that the state machinery is doing nothing to curb them and rather, in many ways, assists them.
Slogans like ‘Bharat se rishta kia – nafrat ka, intiqam ka’ pretty much shows the philosophy which is at the heart of JuD. The most interesting part is that JuD claims politicians are politicking over Pak-India relations and says that they should rather consider India an enemy while the fact is that JuD has long done its own politics over corpses, wearing thousands of youth it has gotten killed in Kashmir as a medal to acquire moral legitimacy and financial assistance. It cites these thousands of deaths with pride and without the slightest remorse even when these deaths have come about to yield absolutely nothing, zilch! And it naturally wreathes in agony as soon as something hints a normalization of Pak-India relations since that means JuD gets to lose its bread and butter and will no longer be able to drive its sales-pitch to a common Pakistani.
The unfortunate fact is that the federal government, despite having initiated the peace process itself, and PML-N chief having spoken publicly about his support for positive relations with India, don’t find the moral courage to openly denounce JuD’s activities or to ban its leaders. This has to change or we run the risk of non-state elements disrupting the entire peace process, like they have times and again in the past.
November 3, 2011 § 46 Comments
• There’s no doubt in the fact that he has magnetized the youth, especially the urban youth, to abandon the comfort of their homes and move forward from mere words; Imran Khan brought them to the streets and no matter how or what he is, he at least unfolded a new chapter in our youth’s political activism which is a dire need today.
• On a neutral stand-point, Imran Khan is someone who hasn’t been tested yet. Despite all the talk about Imran Khan being the ‘suicide’ option, even worse than status quo, the fact remains that so far, Imran Khan has never been found involved in any corruption charges. And the feats he has achieved in the past, from leading Pakistan to a run for World Cup to establishing the hospital and a university, all these clearly tell that here is a man who wants a social change and who has tried to bring it as far as he could. So, after all give and take, Imran is still someone who one seeks out as a possibly better option. In short, his past record shows him a man who is honest and incorruptible.
• Imran Khan does not come from a political background or hasn’t been launched by one of the major political parties and then took his own stage. He’s self-made, in so far as his political achievements are concerned.
• Imran Khan is a face well-known internationally. He is a person who knows how to speak well, how to get his point across and how to adjust to different kinds of audiences. Just ask yourself, who would the world take more seriously when addressing at UN General Assembly – Mian Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Altaf Hussain (just saying) or Imran Khan? Plus, his British connections may let him sale relatively smoother in the rough waters of foreign diplomacy. That, of course is an assumption but a fair comparison lends it weight.
• Not only youth but a number of intellectuals, media personnel and a constituency of literate populace sides with him. While you will see men shipped from rural regions and ‘patwaris’ are the gatherings of both PPP and PML-N, the jalsa at Minar-e-Pakistan had people from all walks of life, most of the politically conscious, at least in comparison to the voters of PPP and PML-N.
• Thus far, Imran Khan hasn’t pitched in any ethnic-centric, region-centric or any other exclusive rhetoric. He claims to be fighting for elimination of corruption, all over Pakistan. Whatever the manifesto of PTI encompasses, it speaks for the entire Pakistan. And that is manifest in both the words and actions of PTI thus far.
• Imran Khan talked about women rights, about educating Pakistan and similar other objectives which pretty much constitute much of what’s wrong with Pakistan today.
Not to vote:
• The chief problem that I find with Imran Khan is his anti-US rhetoric and pro-Taliban stance. Of course he hasn’t openly supported Taliban like JI and others, he has never spoken against him. He speaks of talking to Taliban by ending war or terror and thus restoring peace but all this is a highly impractical as well as illogical. Taliban are not ready for talks, their Shriah-aimed ambitions are not regional but universal and they are not to be told to ‘give up’ their demands just like that. A recent proof to that can be found in the example of the fate Rabbani met in Afghanistan.
• Another great concern is about the personnel his party has been embracing. From Hamid Gul to Jamat-e-Islami rightists, his party has well catered to all sorts of members without disagreeing with their ideology. PTI has also been indiscriminate towards accepting such politicians who have abandoned other ships or were kicked out, some of them even on corruption charges. So whereas yes, Imran Khan comes clean on the issue of corruption, his party seems to be taking a somewhat relaxed stance towards it.
• The worst, of all things leveled against Imran Khan, is his alleged involvement with the deep state or what we know as military establishment. There has been talk of agencies supporting his cause and Imran’s tacit approval of army’s actions since he never talked against the army or it’s exploitations in Pakistan. And this allegation gains much currency when one sees that right now, PTI is only hurting PML-N’s vote-bank, the only party in the political arena who aims to bring army to accountability. Naturally, the logical path for army is to support Kaptaan and that is understandable – but Kaptaan’s support for army is what perplexes many since corruption simply can never be eliminated from Pakistan until army, too, is brought under accountability.
• Recently, PTI arranged a demonstration in Peshawar where it blocked roads to barr NATO tankers from going across. According to media reports, the demonstration was attended by a number of extremist right-wing parties. Also, on the way back, Imran stopped by at the Maulana Sami-ul-Haq’s seminary, the great madressah which has the ‘honor’ of having first launched Taliban who were students there. This is not to hand-pick a single example and lambaste PTI over it – rather, this is simply a proof to the aforementioned assertion that Imran Khan seems to sport pro-Taliban sentiments – now whether these sentiments arise purely out of his anti-US strategy or are these a result of some military minds working to shape PTI’s orientation, one cannot say. But those are the facts.
While that pretty much sums the chief features of both sides of the mirror, let me add that I haven’t absolutely ticked off Imran Khan. He has made his presence known and he may well have a political future, perhaps a significant one. What makes me wonder is that in recent days, in fact within a week of his jalsa, a number of intellectuals have been won over by him – they are optimistic, liberal, humanists and they see a hope in him. My sole hope with Imran Khan, however, is that the mistakes he has made thus far and the errors he has committed in the estimation and ideology of the Taliban and other right-wingers is a result of his naiveté and political immaturity, further bolstered by the ‘patronage’ of JI hawks and exploited (?) by the military establishment. One can only hope that once the liberal coterie abandons its distanced criticism and joins the flock, Imran Khan may have a chance of bettering his views and consequently, his policies. I, personally, think he will be the last man to concede to the implementation of Shriah.
- Will popular Imran Khan be independent too? – Pakistan Daily Times (news.google.com)
August 26, 2011 § 18 Comments
Shahbaz Taseer has been kidnapped today. No one has claimed responsibility so far but it’s only obvious that this is the work of the religious fundamentalists. The same religious fundamentalists who want Shahbaz Taseer to forgive his father’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri; the man who murdered his father because he dared to speak for human rights. The same religious fundamentalists Punjab government is in bed with and supports openly. The same religious extremists who have carried out a number of suicide blasts and killed many Pakistanis yet no religious party or madressah or mullah opposes or condemns them.
I came across the news hours after it had happened. I logged on to my facebook and read Ali Moeen Nawazish’s status which stated this piece of news. And there were then hundreds of comments below, hailing the act, calling for the immediate murder of the abducted fellow and other similar notions. What I fail to understand is that what has induced this into our society? Who has made us the thaikaydars of Islam? How we delude ourselves to believe that we have the right to punish someone or to forgive someone; to brand someone Muslim or otherwise? What makes us think we are at a moral ground higher than anyone else? Did God become so powerless that He now needs us mortals to carry out heavenly tasks on our own?!
Pakistani society, at large, has become so steeped in religious bigotry and extremism that it can no longer tolerate a difference of opinion. Say something against a person’s religious beliefs and you never know the next thing may be a dagger in your heart. Terrorists are at large, especially in Punjab where the government openly supports them, and many of provincial legislature members are best friends with acclaimed terrorists. The intelligence agencies, on the other hand, have some strange, convoluted notion of patriotism. This includes providing covert support to terrorist organizations and not doing anything to effectively disrupt their activities.
As a society, we have become so remote from humanity that we don’t mind killing a person or two or many just for the fun of it! As a precaution, we can always append a religious cause to it because in Pakistan, you can always get away with a murder committed on the name of Islam.
Many who, either out of cowardice, or because they secretly support this act of kidnapping, have used the age-old excuse: since hundreds of other people are dying in Pakistan, why should we care about the abduction of one person, merely because he’s a celebrity? To such dumb-head cowardly hypocrites, let me ask this: why should we give a damn to the killings in Kashmir when people are dying at Baluchistan at the hands of Pak army, a land which is much more close? Why should we give a damn about Palestine or Afghanistan when we have millions living below the line of poverty here at Pakistan? The fact is that you can’t negate one issue through another! That’s simply an excuse, a way out so that you don’t have to protest, to condemn or act in any way. That’s sheer cowardice!
It is about time for us to decide which way we want to go: do we want an Islamic state where Mullahs have the supreme powers which they will yield through crowds of religious fundamentalists, well armed by the terrorist religious organizations? Or do we want a democracy which is based on the principles of humanity? Do we want a nation where you fear your life just because of a sentence you utter? Or do you prefer a nation where all such issues are settled in courts which decide whether or not a person has infringed upon something illegal? Do you want to grow in fear, fear over your right to free expression, fear over your freedom of speech, fear over your right to act, speak and work? Do you want to live in a land where any Mullah, if he has a disagreement with you, can kill you and be hailed as a hero?
It is up to us that what you want. I have no hope in Pakistan’s youth as far as this is concerned. Our youth would wear jeans, dance all night, party crazily, indulge in all sorts of non-sense. Yet, at the end of the day, they would condone every murder on the name religion, every abduction on the name of religion. But this can’t continue. Either we will eventually give in completely to a reign where terrorism becomes rampant or we choose humane principles. The choice is ours. And this choice can only be made rightly if we choose to give up the garb of cowardice and dare to speak against any injustice, no matter how ‘saintly’ a person commits it and no matter what logic or argument he wields to justify it!
August 13, 2011 § 5 Comments
Ramadan used to be a quite a treat for me. I would eagerly wait for the month to come. It changed my entire lifestyle and brought a respite from the regular routine. Over the years, my sentiments towards it have changed greatly. However, it still holds some of its charms for me. There is something very enticing about the aromas of samosas and pakoras watering your mouth in the early evening hours.
However, there are both goods and bads that can be seen manifest in our society during this month. Here’s a quick categorization of both.
The best part of Ramazan, to me, is simply the exquisite recipes that are stacked away all year-long only to be availed in this month. From pakoras to samosas to new salads and honey-sugared yoghurt – there are some things you get your hands on only during Ramazan. And that too to your heart’s content, though heart’s content quite contradicts the actual appetite which seems gone with a single glass of water after the Iftar. Plus, the hospitality of people is at its prime, disregarding for the moment the logic in sending pakoras or dates to everyone in the neighborhood when everyone already has them as the regular menu.
Being a sloth, to my absolute delight, I can sleep long hours during day and through night without being bothered by my ghar walas – all because of Ramzan. Especially, you can sleep as long as you wish after sehri without being brutally woken at the conventional early hour of 10 in the morning. If you’re fasting, that means you can easily leverage such liberties from your family without any reprimands. These also include excusing yourself off from most of the physical chores and watch TV or get online for long hours and being with your friends for hours to pass the friggin’ long day.
You must have seen a frenzy gripping the ladies of the house as soon as Ramzan starts. The endless search for the right clothes to go with the occasion of Chand Raat and the three days of Eid virtually won’t end until Eid itself. In fact, for the ladies it’s about a lot more than clothes, stuff I can only fleeting remark about – stuff like bangles, jewelry, shoes etc. For us lads, the awesome part is Amma’s insistence upon getting us a kurta which, of course, is a rarity and hence very welcome. In fact, when I went to shop for Kurtas this time, I was quite surprised to see the extensive range available. Thankfully, there were batter designs and material available than the traditional uni-color, meant-for-starch kurtas. In fact, I think I also spotted some red, silky ones for the males, due courtesy to Star Plus for the inspiration, I presume. And I could only gaze in amazement at the bizarre site.
I hate it when someone gapes at me when I tell them I’m not fasting. The next question is of course an inquiry as to my health which, again, is responded in negative, to their utter disappointment. And then a long, boring lecture starts. I mean, why the hell can’t people fast and then keep that to them. Why impose it upon others? If I fast or not, that’s my personal call – why should anyone else tell me about it!! And there’s the crappy Ikram-e-Ramzan ordinance, a self-ordained necessity from the vile Zia days. You can’t eat or drink in the public without people gazing at you as if they’d gnaw your skin off. And of course you run the risk of arrest for the ‘heinous crime.’ It’s illegal. If you didn’t know, now is the time to beware and choose that remote chota sa khokha for your daily dose of coke and smoke if the desire is too hard to resist. ‘Sano raza lagan dia way tay tou khan daya wain. Teri aisi di taisi!’ is the common public attitude. Of course those who are fasting have to suffer hunger and thirst but why should they be allowed to take out their frustrations on others by refusing to allow them eating or drinking? And that too under the cover of religion! This is a clear discrimination, an almost inhumane law that calls for an immediate change!
Ah, the rituals. ‘Main nain 10 Quran parhay hain, tum nain abhi tak 1 bhi nain parha?!’ ‘Main 20 nawafil parh kar aya hon, tum at least namaz hi parh lia karo.’ Not an uncommon instance, right? Barely attempting to inculcate what fasting is meant for, most pious brethren go for a ritualistic observance only. They would pray fervently, read through endless Qurans through Ramzan, reciting like parrots who barely understand what they are reciting (and really, I’m quite baffled at the speed – there seem obvious discrepancies in their count), would offer additional nawafil and make regular appearance at the local Tarawih congregation. But when it comes to their attitude, they would barely change any of the vilest evils (evils according to the very moral code they claim to follow) about them. They would still quarrel, still cheat, still be cranky, still shout at others, still lie shamelessly and still do more or less everything they would do in normal days – except with the difference of an ‘Astaghfirullah’ appended at the end of every such thing.
What I despise most is when people wear their piety on their sleeves and brandish it like a right to say whatever bullshit they want to utter. If you have a beard, you can tell those ‘infidel children’ on the corner of street to get the hell to their homes and do some ‘virtuous deeds’ and not waste the holy month in playing cricket. And you can also tell the neighbor next door to shut up his stereo, ‘kam az kam ramzan main tou!!!’ You can also coax, rather force your colleagues to accompany you to prayers by telling them over and over again that ‘It’s Ramzan!!!!!!!!’ And finally, you can have lavish iftars after all this ‘hard work’ and an extra-lavish sehri and then go sermon others about patience, fortitude and empathy.
As I stated at the start, the month still holds some charm for me. Even with all that I’ve stated above, I still somehow enjoy the ambience of this month. I mean, ok, I can’t eat publicly when I’m not fasting and that’s a nuisance but still, there’s something about the month that’s enjoyable. Perhaps it’s the change from the daily routine. Or the recipes. Or the nighters that become more frequent. Whatever be it, Ramzan and Eid still have some fun left to them.
August 4, 2011 § 10 Comments
‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is verily Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece – a book that deals with so many things, and in such subtle yet intricate detail and with such a force, that one is left wondering about the integrity of one’s opinion after having read the entire novel. Dealing with things in ever-double shades, of both a subjective and objective viewpoint, and through both art and faith, Wilde’s work has a jostling affect on the reader. He constructs a typical modern man’s life which is based upon a mode of existence vested entirely in subjective experiences and divorced of anything otherwise. A hedonism that is both very dark yet very attractive, very pleasant and enticing – a religion of faithlessness (Read about true materialism, a religion in itself) that removes all limits, save those of one’s mortality, and even they are pushed the farthest with the fictitious character of Dorian Gray whose exuberant youth never withers. It gives form to the speculation many of us have had regarding the infinity of pleasure we could have, given certain circumstances. And when Oscar procures all those circumstances, driven by the whim of the handsomest Gray, we realize that even then the morbid meaninglessness of life seemed to look through.
What adds the tinge of deliciousness to the pages are Lord Henry’s dialogues, him being undoubtedly one of the wittiest characters I have read of and who utters most of the sentences which are then to become eternal ‘golden quotes’ of Wilde, to be quoted and re-quoted in fiction magazines and essays. Being a hedonist who wouldn’t accept even the very brand, Henry is a befitting example of one who consumes himself entirely in pleasure, even when restrained and somewhat refined. He refuses to belong to any faction, of any nature whatsoever, and lives life at the whim – ‘living in the moment’ to quote the popular cliché. To quote a dialogue ‘The only difference between a caprice and a lifelong passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.’ Drenched thoroughly in the eloquence that was atypical of his contemporaries, Oscar’s words leave one steeped in deep thought, not due to some profound, philosophical rendering but because of a witty, everyday remark about a mundane thing in the most extraordinary fashion. Nonetheless, I can safely call this that one piece of fiction which contains the seeds for the strongest revolt against civilization and the hypocrisies it has worn now for ages. Dialogues such as ‘Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious: both are disappointed’ and ‘Young men want to faithful but are not; old men want to be faithless and cannot’ are just a fleeting preface to the actual blasphemies uttered against the society, none of them quite untrue, and in a manner most provoking.
Wilde quite beautifully depicts the dullness of the persistence, even of the most exquisite pleasures, and through that, provides the best argument against hedonism itself – but he seems more inclined to give the ruling in the hedonist’s favor, conceding with the proper sentence that life would be but worthless without such joys, such wonders, such passionate undertakings and sinful indulgences as had been committed by Dorian Gray. In a way, he expounds both the argument and the counter-argument side-by-side until each is consumed by the other and their product, Gray, is consumed by their contest. Even sin and virtue seem enshrouded deep with, more important to humans, social motives which sway them to either, as required by the norms of the social order. And to discern through the psychology of any action is to try and unveil the masks which is the most difficult of the tasks, even for the beholder of those masks. Eventually, this paradox is what tears Dorian’s heart apart, leaving him doubtful as to the presence of the slightest grain of nobleness in himself which he had formerly assumed thus.
In all, this novel has all the elements of fantasy, creativity, meaningfulness (though towards the theme of meaninglessness), passion and intelligent rendering, both of plot and characters, and a profound theme, if any one of the many of them, recurring throughout, could be pinned for the verdict – a gem of a piece of writing for an intelligent reader and a charming delight still for the less bestowed ones.
June 24, 2011 § 12 Comments
Belief is often cited, at least in the society I live in, as the prime mover of life, the purpose of our being, the crux of our soul and etc etc. It is quoted as something without which one is quite like the walking dead or well…undeserving of being called a human. Those are some of the definitions and qualifications.
Frankly speaking, I think belief is highly over-rated. Belief tends to create alternative version of reality and then feed one the most convenient one. And it necessarily takes away the critical abilities of a person once he’s a believer.
Yes, belief does yield results. Yet, does not the placebo effect too? To discern the implications of belief, at least as far as the ‘supernatural’ is concerned, it would do one good to do a detailed study on a procedure as simple as placebo effect. It’s like this: once you begin to believe, you begin to expect. You unconsciously begin to inch towards what you wish and with a boasted fervor, thanks to the belief you hold – thinking all the time that something additional is now going to make you succeed whereas it’s nothing but your own reinforced effort. A person who believes he’s flying into the air may as well be very convinced that he is. Belief, when divorced of rationality, has all that it takes to make one delusional.
The worst part, which is not essentially inherent in all beliefs but some, is when its believer begins to think that only what he holds is true or the most superior and the rest is a world full of lies. This gives birth to a condescending attitude towards all ‘non-believers’ and feeds him the delusion that he’s the one better off among all of them. Naturally, he treats them as low-lives or if he lacks the capacity, holds a low opinion of them. He may pity them, talk to them, try to convince them – but he can, then, rarely respect them or manage to like them.
If it were possible, I would say that belief is fair enough when it comes with the ability to critically examine it even after one’s a believer. Ironically, that’s a paradox and is practically impossible. And therefore, belief is just a subjective entity which is an inspiration to do something for many and for others, a bane.
August 6, 2010 § 3 Comments
Belief is a strange thing. Belief, essentially, is a static entity and if left to itself, becomes a stagnant concept prone to erosion. However, it’s our human intellect that renders it much more, granting it the grandeur or a position else wise in our conceptions. Human will is the essential ingredient in invigorating belief.
When a person wishes to believe, he gets his reasons to do so. When there is a desire, every minute thing contributes to ascertain it. For instance, if you take a leap from non-belief to belief, the same December evening with it’s zephyr drift which gave you poetic inspiration becomes an evening where you could see God manifest in everything, the winds celebrating your newly-acquired faith, the leaves dancing and showering down on you in jubilation. The point is that our mind makes us see what we wish to see. And that’s true for psychological reasons. Therefore, belief necessarily is a result of the will to believe, the desire to have faith.
In the absence of such a desire, there is no belief. And in fact, if the contrariwise scenario is considered, we realize that the will to disbelief breeds disbelief no less efficiently. Once you take your way to disbelief, everything loses its once ‘deeper’ meaning and it is a plain material existence with physical/scientific connotations and the only deep thing about it are the psychological associations.
However, the difference between the two courses is that one is based nearly solely upon subjective experiences while the other has its purchase off objective realities. Needless to state, the latter affords more credibility in the eyes of a rational viewer and the former much less so. Also, the latter is a finer course because at least it dwells upon objective truths and keeps off the psychological tricks belief is prone to. Belief, as cited earlier, in itself is a subjective truth and borrows its cogency from likewise experiences. And in doing so, it is evidently vulnerable to untruths.
July 10, 2010 § 17 Comments
At 10:30 p.m. July 9th, I receive the following message:
“Assalamualikum. I know I have “hurted” you many times. I have done many mistakes and I may “continu” ’cause I am a sinful “beign!” Please…forgive me so that I would have a little ease in my life. Happy Shab-e-Mirag.”
Now, apart from the excruciating mistakes in that sentence, what bothers me most is the sheer hypocrisy that is vested within those two lines. The person who has sent me the message is a capital fellow! Finely talented, I must say. He’s a fellow debater, engages in all sorts of co-curricular, my team-mate on a number of parliamentary contests, has no problem engaging in interactions and discussions with the opposite sex, listens muzak, discusses movies and has a life of whole lot fun! In simple words, he falls well within the category we would term ‘non-religious’ and proudly ‘open-minded.”
But what am I supposed to make of the sentence above, is what bothers me now. It leaves me thinking what a nation of hypocrites we are. It has become more of a custom, a dogmatic observation to make such proclamations of humility and sinfulness. But how exactly does it help? From what I know, the same message or something similar popped on my cell’s screen last year and last year and all thence-prior ever since I had a cell. And a dozen times, all from a diverse set of ‘open-minded’, capital fellas. Does it mean they will quit everything they consider ‘un-Islamic’ and becomes the sages they vow to be? Does it mean they will stop viewing the kafir’s movies and profiting them through the CDs they purchase on first availabilities? Does this mean the next time I see they’d be imitating Zakir Naik rather than Michael Jackson and their iPods will be belting out Sami Yusuf in place of Shakira? Of course not! But you see, the tradition holds. Don’t get me wrong here. I am absolutely not proposing you to become one either. No. My point simply is: stop being hypocrites. Stop citing your sins that you act willfully and consciously and which you have all intents to continue with.
Coming back to the gist of my dissertation, that’s not it. That’s just the tip of a Freudian iceberg. You look down and you see the entire society based upon the berg. You see people running businesses they secretly hold as ‘haraam’ and then tipping a local madrassah at the end of the year to bathe the profits in halal-dom. You see people employed in banking sector who’d yap about the haram-ness of ‘interest’ in their personal lives. You see maulvis, religious heads sermonizing about the vices of a cultural domination when their own kids are draped in a western culture, from head to toe, inside out. Heck you see the same people abusing facebook on the pretext of blasphemy who’d been using it to no good purports!! And behold, the latest in the league are the pop-singers-cum-religious scholars who’d teach you about foreign conspiracies and the danger Islam faces at their hands after having a session of head-banging Les Paul. Pardon me for the slip, pray also add to it the fashion designers.
A charity donation at the end of the year, forwarding a virtuous text message, a recital in the morning before so-called sinful indulgences, a ‘melad’ every month, a trip to Raiwand from year to year or to those who can afford it, a round trip to the House of God is all that it takes to purge us all of all the vices we commit. Or in fact, of late, all it takes is an energetic rhetoric every morning at a TV show where you don’t forget to insert all the relevant syllables: zionists, patriotism, need-to-change, back-to-age-of-glory, momon-istic vows and etc etc. It’s convenient, it’s easy and it’s once-in-a-while. And the most beautiful thing about it is that it gives us a token of approval to do all that we want until the next installment, which of course is conveniently distanced mostly.
And when you quietly insert, between the vociferous discourses they often utter, a sentence or two about religion being a personal matter, all hell breaks loose. From bashing to condemnations to outright labels of infidelity, they do all that they can to guard their forts of piety and religiosity(and effectively lock your routes of escape too). Irrespective of the blatant violations they commit towards what they so passionately talk of, they consider it their inherent right to be ‘the’ spokesperson and to be ‘the’ guardian of faith.
The malady is not unique. And it’s not contained. It’s virulently widespread. And the more religious the outfit and babbling becomes, the more the sinful they turn, at least by the very same standards they hold. Even when every one of us knows of this pretentious, self-announcing, faked humilities, the show goes on. And the one with the most impressive text or the largest sum of money will be labelled the perfect momin. So much for the remarkable displays of Iman!!
On an ending note, let me declare without a contrite soul that this night, I didn’t forgive any of the friends I hold a grudge against. And I did tell them rather than returning them warm, brotherly responses, that a night on the rug is not enough to erase the conscientious vices of a life-time!
July 4, 2010 § 11 Comments
In a country where religious intolerance marks social life and feuds over it are common; a country where tens of blasphemy cases with people killed over alleged blasphemy with absolutely no proof procured go unchecked; where entire Christian settlements are burnt down to ash at a false pretext of blasphemy; where a single word offensive to someone’s religious sentiments may have you deemed wajib-ul-qatal; a country where people rejoice at the terrorist attack on an Ahmedi minority; and finally, a country where more puratincal factions consider all the rest as kafirs, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that the most reverred shrine of this nation has been attacked. In fact, it seems perfectly logical that such a religious attitude may carry such connotations. All you need is a conviction that the religion is the yardstick to use, as per will, in establishing the premise for having the other person considered a kafir. And voila! You have an ample reason to bomb him, shoot him or simply slaughter him on a you-tube video, proclaiming the greatness of God and expressing victory.
Howsoever I shall endeavor, it’s hard for me to contain the utter horror and anger that the attack in Lahore triggered in me. Nevertheless, as I said earlier, it does not surprise me one bit. Taliban have been attacking the shrines in the northern regions too, blowing them to pieces since they are, to them, a sign of ‘shirk.’ Once you realize the mind-set that shapes a Taliban, one of extreme bigotry and hatred, so much so that an individual doesn’t flinch in killing even the nearest ones over the promises of 72 virgins and a trip straight-to-heaven, it’s not too hard to note that to them, everything contrary to their terms is a viable target. When I read the statement from TTP claiming no involvement in the attack saying “Our target is very clear and we only attack police, army and other security personnel” and that “you know we do not attack public places”, it seems like a big, ironic joke. Of course the drastic fall in Taliban sympathesizers after the attack hasn’t helped them much.
The worst part of the entire episode is the deluded denial the Punjab government still seems to dwell in. Sideeq-al-Farooq, the PML N spokesperson, openly defined the provincial government’s stance in a talk show on Samaa TV: that to them, Taliban are the good lot who successfully established a glorious rule in Afghanistan. He didn’t go beyong that. Nothing said on the show would stir him to admit that the Taliban were now the terrorists killing innocent people and are now a threat to national security. Needless to say, such a willfully ignorant attitude will only inhibit the efforts to curb terrorism. Abetting investigations into the right direction and circumventing the actual cause of this bloodshed will only result in more bloodshed. And on this, I side with those who consider CM a party in the huge losses of human lives incurred.
June 23, 2010 § 12 Comments
When the decision to ban facebook was revoked by the high court, I felt relieved like most of us that finally reason had reigned supreme over religious sentimentalism. However, little did I know that this was a brief respite because today’s verdict by the Lahore High Court fully negated it. Banning a score of sites, including hotmail, yahoo, google, bing, youtube and amazon, the moral axe has yet again grinded on the pretext of blasphemous content. Without a doubt, such a ban is bound to impact millions of users across the country, positively inhibiting their online activity.
It sure is a grim state of affairs. The credibility of such moves has already been proved futile in the FB-ban episode. The world didn’t really give a damn and after disrupting our own digital communication for a few days, we quietly resumed it. It’s a rather poor way to argue our case and by doing so again, we will inevitably lose the little prestige we still have in the online world.
Let’s move to the root cause of such instances in our society. The fact is that in Pakistan, emotional rhetoric has become the sole premise to argue anything and everything that’s linked to religion. Naturally, this leaves little room for rational reasoning and results in rash acts and decision, often manifest in our social nomenclature. This has also led to a perception that even in the matter of national importance a mere word from those at the helm of religious affairs suffices as an authority on all moral issues. And the recent cyber-censorship move by the court only affirms this.
Such a move has also raised a number of questions about judiciary. Pakistan still lacks a firm base of cyber laws and whether the absence of proper cyber regulation grants courts the authority to make run-time laws on cyber issues is a question that needs to be answered. The concern is further underlined by the fact that most government personnel, including judicial officials, are largely unacquainted with the domain of internet. And this has a direct bearing on their understanding of the relevant issues, and the consequent verdicts.
Today’s ban, specifically, has triggered an aggressive backlash among Pakistan’s web-populace. Whereas internet has come to bear considerably on the national economy, apparently it remains at the whim of courts’ moral alienations. Sudden and sweeping decisions like these mean that websites could be made available or unavailable any time at the tiniest proof of questionable content on their pages. Questionable content, again, is a highly subjective term and a court may interpret it differently at different times. This only means one thing: uncertainty. And in a country where freelancing is becoming a dominant trend among technical professionals, this uncertainty melts down to professional and monetary losses.
This critique of the official ban may seem a bit too harsh but it’s only true enough. One is reminded of the Iron Curtain from Soviet days at having witnessed this. There can be no end to such measures until and unless a proper regulatory body, technically eligible and qualified to understand the digital web realm, is promulgated. In its absence, the courts can rule whatsoever they feel fit and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if some day, internet is altogether banned in Pakistan on the grounds of it containing ‘immoral content’ – ‘Technical Dajjal’ as some mullahs like to put it.
The post was originally published at: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/227/banning-websites-reign-of-the-iron-curtain/
May 30, 2010 § 7 Comments
We witness yet another saga of terrorism at Lahore where about 70 people were brutally murdered. The terrorists attacked mosques of Ahmedi community and sprayed those in the mosques with bullets and grenades. Eventually, some of them blew themselves up inflicting maximum damage.
What we are witnessing today is nothing surprising. In a yesterday’s Pakistan, Maulana Zia-ul-Haq’s regime had actively supported and funded not only the militant factions to be used in Afghanistan, but also those spewing sectarian violence. In fact, it’s quite interesting to note that event today, members of parties based entirely upon factual dissent and openly proclaiming hatred towards rival factions, not only are not confronted by law but rather make it to the parliament.
Ahmedis have long witnessed a discrimination throughout Pakistan. Despite the fact that some of our most notable personalities in history were Ahmedis, the general perception of the masses is based nearly entirely on the sermons by illiterate mullahs, actively instigating minds with hatred. One outcome was witnessed today as nearly eighty innocent lives were lost in a mad spree where the attackers supported beards and of course were convinced that they were doing God’s work. In recent times, listening to Zaid Hamid’s statements on India reminded me of the once-oft-quote statements about Ahmedis. It’s a shame we wish for a freedom of speech where none talks about our religious ideals when on the other hand, we use the same liberty to literally mud-sling the revered personalities of those we disagree with.
Intriguingly, nearly all the recent terrorist incidents eventually tend out to have religious undertones, reasserting the need for a modern reconstruction of Islam which is still, sadly, no where to be seen. The need of the day is that such interpretations be done explicitly and such resolves be taken by the eminent religious scholars which would clearly root out all forms of extremism. A sufi approach perhaps would be one of the ideal adaptations. Not only that, an intellectual revolution, of the same type that once pushed us towards a political Islam, is also needed. We witnessed in the last century the religious fervor of the proponents of political Islam, all because those who coined and defined the term were truly determined to look it to accomplishment. Maulana Moudoodi and Syed Qutab are some of the many examples. My point here is that taking a rather passive take on things and religion, particularly, would change nothing at all. A lukewarm effort would barely yield results. We need determined, concentrated efforts towards achieving intellectual dissemination and rational interpretations within religious circles. Also, expecting a change within a few years would be a rather futile expectation. It’d surely take time. Nevertheless, that’s our only hope.
Published originally at PTH: http://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/the-gruesome-lahore-attack/#more-8626
May 23, 2010 § 55 Comments
Guess what? The cartoon controversy is back. And this time with a bang because of the celebration of a ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ on May 20th in reaction to the death threats received by certain cartoonists. The day has drawn a lot of noise, more so because of the Muslim reaction than perhaps the original participation of those supporting the cause.
One is yet again to witness a very interesting phenomenon in the Muslim protests against the said act. Not only is it a vivid picture of the average Muslim take, it also is a clear answer to the fake claims made by pseudo-intellects about the moderation of Muslim Ummah. The issue has sparked a grand controversy within Muslim circles, both home and abroad, with eager preachers forwarding bulk of messages condemning and often, abusing it.
Intriguingly enough, this time, the axe has struck at Facebook. Apparently, the cause of such sudden resentment among FB’s Muslim users is over its refusal to remove certain pages inciting the message. Much to the chagrin of Muslims, FB’s policy allows for freedom of speech and so would not take a page off on the grounds quoted by the followers of Islam. And our Muslim brethren have then resorted to the regular course – boycotting FB, claiming that’d bring it million-dollar repercussions in revenue and inflict a heavy loss. A rather misplaced hope considering a recent history where Telenor suffered a boycott on the same grounds in Pakistan though coupled with a much more violent backlash by Pakistanis and yet again became a mainstream mobile operator company within no time. No doubt FB would have had it offices burnt had there been any within Pakistan.
While that pretty much depicts the state of affairs, we shall now turn to the rhetoric that deals with the issue. Muslims, believers in Allah and His Prophet, Muhammad [P.B.U.H], find it highly offensive that the personality they hold in the highest reverence is ridiculed by the non-Muslims. According to the common Muslim perception, such an act committed within an Islamic state and under the rule of Islamic law should meet immediate death. And for that reason, many a believers are witnessed as eager candidates for murdering any cartoonist who’d draw these sketches. However, there are dissenting interpretations where the aforementioned punishment is considered to be the one decided by Prophet himself during his life and which needs intellectual reconsideration in the light of Ijtehad in a modern-day world.
The issue is specifically popular, almost uniquely, in Pakistan where there’s been a major campaign launched both offline and online to boycott FB. Not only that, the issue moved beyond the digital realm and into real-world politick when a High Court ruled against FB in a case, moving PTA to block it until May 31st, as per the news and thus granting the entire affair a legal status.
Here we need to consider the chief argument put forth by Muslims in favor of the rather volatile behavior they exhibit every time such an incident happens. According to Muslims, drawing sketches of a personality holy to them is offensive to them, a vast majority, and thus should be condemned and banned. What they fail to understand is that such a ban would strike at the very heart of freedom of speech. Obviously, such a ban could not be imposed merely because a sufficiently large group’s interests are served since human rights precisely means upholding what’s right and not what the majority says.
When we consider it in theory, such a ban does seem an absurdity indeed. To my Muslim fellas, I would like them to consider this argument and decide for themselves how rational their demand is: suppose a ban is imposed on such sketches because Muslims are offended. Shouldn’t such privileges then also be extended to Christians, Hindus, Jews – in fact, every religion. And what about factions other than religions? Human rights surely extend beyond the realms of religion’s followers. And the chain doesn’t end here. Gandhi is not a religious figure, yet his fan-following which surely counts up to a large number, may be offended on any ridicule done to his name and would demand similar prerogative? And then, for the followers of every popular personality? And every holy book, and every faction, and every ideology? That truly dissolves down to the restriction of the freedom of speech to such diminished domains that it would be anything but universal facts, since they can’t really be disputed (I’m supposing for a moment that certain facts indeed are not disputed – like the expedition to Moon, though some Muslim friends once tried to convince me that it was a hoax and an American conspiracy).
Also, it’d have been a mere another day had Muslims not retaliated in their usual mood and made a mountain out of a mole. It was indeed the reaction that erupted throughout the Muslims that lend both credence and fame to the event and brought to it the attention of the entire international community and media. Consequently, it’s Muslims who suffer. Those claiming to give FB a million-dollar rebuff in Pakistan ought to know that according to PTA’s statements produced in the court, this ban would also incur damages on our economy which won’t be nominal at all. But of course this was counted by the lawyers’ zestful rhetoric they came up with, in spite of any real argument, proclaiming they could lay their lives, let alone some financial damage.
It’s because of this that I don’t agree to the plight of Muslims. Not only is it a direct threat to the freedom of speech, it shall inflict the totalitarian notions of middle ages yet again on the society which would extend far beyond this single type of freedom. And the whole thing could’ve been done away with, had it been let to itself. It’d have passed silently without really offending the Muslims had not the passionate brathers not circulated the message over and over.
What’s much more troubling in this entire saga is the violent, and nearly bloody, attitude that Muslims love to wear when talking about this particular issue. Nearly every Muslim, brought up in a religious environment, considers it a part of faith to love Holy Prophet [P.B.U.H.]. Not only that, illiterate religious scientists then also drill is into their minds, as part of faith, that they ought to kill or do away with anyone insulting the Prophet. Such violent injunctions, which clearly fringe upon murder and inhumanity, are so consistently drilled into minds that you wouldn’t find four out of ten Muslims who don’t strongly believe in it. At least not so in Pakistan.
Such a dangerous trend is a rather disastrous element in society’s moderation. If indeed an individual has the realization that he can always resort to violence and physical abuse where argument and logic won’t work, he most certainly would always use the former, both out of convenience and out of a feeling of being a ‘real’ believer. And that’s not what I am writing as a logical deduction, but rather based upon facts, evident in the many zealot Muslim youth who tried to take a go at the Danish cartoonist and the threats made to every person who has the slightest to do with the sketches. FB is also included in the list apparently – at least for now.
We need to do away with such non-peaceful tactics, not just in practice, but in theory too. There have been frequent incidents of religious intolerance in the past, including the burning down of Christian settlements. This and many other happenings quite reflect the mental stop of our society.
Such acts clearly undermine all claims and efforts made to construct a moderate, tolerant image of Muslims. The brass is heavy on them already and such moves only aid in inciting a more radical image towards followers of other religions, isolating us Muslims all the more internationally and thus making it hard both for them and the world.
P.S. As a concluding note, I must state here I by no means endorse the event, as I anticipate shall be the earliest objection to this write-up. I rather consider them an act in real bad taste and am offended by such sketches. But I believe I should really not give a damn and concentrate my energies on something more constructive for the world and humanity. Lesser still do I support the notion of inflicting inhibitions to freedom of speech.
April 3, 2010 § 20 Comments
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire
The quote stands true in the light of the fact that a religious society has tendencies to grow rapidly violent on the slightest difference of opinion. It is not surprising that when you bring up individuals vested in a philosophy where killing and getting killed for a so-called cause is a matter of pride and human life is considered too pathetic to be rated over ambiguous, self-assumed, multi-interpreted notions, human life’s sanctity is undermined.
February 11, 2010 § 6 Comments
I must say I am no expert on Taliban affairs. And I really lack the credit of any real-time interactions with any of them, unless you count some ‘popular’ pop personalities as their pseudo-versions. That, then, renders me quite unmerited to map some analysis over their activities.
However, with the limited knowledge I have of their recent ‘operations’ and of their rather non-notorious history with our intelligence personnel, I must say I was quite started when I found the piece of news about Hakeemullah Mehsud’s death. While that barely came as a surprise since for some time, US drones have been surprisingly finding its targets on spot and Mehsuds are out of luck, what does intrigue me is that the guy was on his way to Karachi to get himself operated over the injuries he had incurred. And it was at Multan where he finally did avail his ticket to heaven, giving in to the wounds.
One wonders where the HELL was the so-called security and intelligence when the guy was travelling down the country across hundreds of miles to get some ‘quality medical aid.’ Of course in Karachi too, he intended to be operated in some real good hospital, something he was making that journey of hundreds of miles for. And with the conviction too that his presence won’t be unfoiled by the specific hospital’s admin.
I am still to see some journalistic piece over this brazen bravado of the guy or the absolute impotence of our intelligence agencies, put it as we may. And well….considering it all, the Taliban riddle still remains a riddle to me. While I am quite clear on the fact that these fundos want nothing but to wreck havoc and death on the name of religion, what remains to be seen and known is who exactly is directing their religious insanity with it’s resources. Unless that question is answered, I believe it’s quite useless to probe into ulterior dimensions of the riddle and all efforts, including the sacrifice of our military officials on the name of this war against terrorism, would only prove futile in long-term.