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Showing posts from April, 2006

Eve Teasing: teasing or hurting?

Have you ever encountered roadside Romeos who passed obscene remarks at you, made indecent gestures and/or postures, vulgar proposals, or harassed you in a way that outraged your modesty? If so, you have just been a victim of ‘eve teasing’.

“Eve teasing is a euphemistic expression that lives in post-colonial India and refers largely to sexual harassment of women in public spaces, thereby constituting women as ‘Eves’, temptresses who provoke men into states of sexual titillation. This popular perception of sexual harassment posits the phenomena as a joke where women are both a tease and deserve to be teased. Considered a growing problem throughout the subcontinent, eve teasing ranges in severity from sexually-coloured remarks to outright groping” (Sexual Harassment, Pratiksha Baxi).

Although the term ‘eve teasing’ originates from India, this vice is not limited to India alone. Pakistani women suffer the same fate at the hands of their male counterparts. It is an extremely serious problem…

In defence of morality

"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give" — Kahlil Gibran.

Pick up a newspaper or turn on a news channel, nine out of ten times we are confronted with some terrible news — loss of life through murder, violence, war, crime, disaster. Anything and everything seems hopeless and out of control. News like this makes one feel like screaming at the top of one’s lungs. It seems as if taking the life of another human being has become a game, nothing more. At one point in my life, I had actually given up on reading newspapers or watching any news channel. It left me with less bitterness in my life.

But despair is not the answer to these problems. Serving humanity through kindness, charity, good manners, good behaviour, honesty, integrity, tolerance, justice, etc., is the answer.

The Dalai Lama hit the nail right on the head when he said:
1) Universal humanitarianism is essential to solve global problems;
2) Compassion is th…

Suggestions without answers

The April 11 Nishtar Park, Karachi suicide bombing has sinister connotations. It killed several leaders and members of the Sunni Tehrik (ST), an Islamic party that subscribes to the South Asian Barelvi tradition. Karachi has a history of violence between Sunni militant groups and Shias, but there is little friction between the Shias and Barelvis. One cannot ignore the fact that the Barelvis have been targeted before by militants from the more austere Deobandi Sunni sect, which disapproves of the Barelvis’ interpretation of Islam. 17 Ulema of the Ahle Sunnat met President Musharraf in Karachi in the backdrop of this carnage. At the meeting, President Musharraf said he was seeking the help of the Ulema to help curb religious terrorism and extremism. But the president did not spell out how exactly he envisaged the Ulema could help. It is all very well to make good suggestions in theory, but what are needed are practical steps to eradicate religious terrorism. No one is clear how to get r…

Recitation without comprehension?

“Al-Quran, the Word of God, is inimitable and unsurpassable not only in the grandeur of its diction, the variety of its imagery and the splendour of its word painting, but also in its meaning, substance, message and profundity” — Athar Husain, The Message of the Quran.

There are three distinct levels, in the order of increasing spiritual rewards and practical benefits, at which one can submit oneself in the appreciation of the Quran. The first and the lowest is mere recitation. The second and the intermediate level is the thorough understanding of the Quran, which can be furnished by reading the explanation and context of each verse (tafseer). The highest and supreme level is to mould one’s life according to the dictates of the Quran and pursue every action under the guidance and direction of its teachings.

There lies much less ambiguity in various approaches established to aid the truthful attainment of Quranic insight and its proper manifestation in one’s actions as endorsed by one of…

Stop the noise!

“So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men” — Voltaire.

Have you ever been jolted out of your peaceful sleep by a roaring azan? Then just as you come to your senses and realise what happened, a second muezzin’s voice, even louder (if possible), joins in and over the next few minutes, at least half a dozen other voices join in — distorting the sound of the azans. Due to this, the azan — a melodious expression of faith — has instead become a thunderous cacophony. This is a problem that few people have been willing to denounce publicly, due to a fear that they might be doing something religiously wrong if they complain about it.

In a letter to the editor (The Tribune, November 17, 2003), H. Kishie Singh from Chandigarh, India, complains about the misuse of loudspeakers, “Social…

Apostasy: to kill or not to kill?

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it with religious conviction” — Blaise Pascal.

The recent case of the Afghan convert brought the issue of ‘apostasy’ back into the limelight. The act of apostasy in Islam is when one leaves Islam for another religion, or for a non-religious lifestyle. Ridda or Irtid├úd literally means “turning back”. An apostate is called ‘murtadd’, meaning “one who turns the back”. All orthodox schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhhabs) agree that a male apostate must be executed. A female apostate may be put to death according to some schools, or imprisoned, according to others. Such teachings have strengthened a misplaced perception that Islam is a symbol of obscurantism, a religion of intolerance that answers everything with the sword. Liberal scholars point out that the Quran itself does not mandate a death penalty for apostasy, but their voices are drowned by the more orthodox voices from within the Islamic community. A person cannot…