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Showing posts from November, 2006

Sufism: a peaceful path

All religions – whether they are the three ‘revealed’ religions or any other – have two historical tendencies. First is that once the message has been received (from God or through introspection, philosophy, contemplation, etc.) and then spread widely, it tends to become organised religion. There are the examples of the Jewish establishment, the Christian Church, the Buddhist order, the Muslim clergy, the Hindu pundits, etc. When a critical mass is achieved, religion becomes ritualised. A mere form of the actual message remains, but the real message gets lost. The second tendency is to counterweight the rituals and the hollowing out of the message by opposing them. The opposition to ritualised, formalised, organised religion in the light of the real message is the basis of Sufism.

A Sufi’s message is love, tolerance, inclusiveness, acceptance, transcending the material world and universal brotherhood. The beautiful message cuts across the grain of religious exclusiveness. The exclusion…

Integration vs. assimilation

Muslims were already viewed as oppressive, backward and ‘barbarians’ by most people in the West. 9/11 served to further solidify these views. Muslims, especially those living in the West, are now being targeted left, right and centre. First it was the ban on religious symbols and apparel in public schools in France. Though the ban includes all overtly religious dress and signs including Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses, it was mainly aimed at banning the hijab (headscarf and/or veil) worn by Muslim women. Then the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) appeared in a Danish newspaper and the furore in the Muslim world over that had barely died down when the Pope made disparaging remarks about the Prophet (PBUH). Last year, several Belgian towns banned the wearing of the burka (full veil) in public and several regions in Germany have banned wearing of hijab in public buildings, especially in schools. As if this was not enough, British Cabinet Minister …

Rising above our entrenched beliefs

Australia’s senior Islamic cleric Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali created quite an uproar recently when in one of his sermons he implied that sexual assaults on women only take place because women ‘provoke’ men to do so by their choice of clothing. If women wore the hijab (headscarf and/or veil) and stayed inside their homes, they would be safe. Hilali’s argument was not only illogical, but also highly insensitive, especially for those women who have been the victims of sexual assaults, as was discussed in my column titled, ‘Rape: is the victim at fault’ (The Post, December 2, 2005). I will discuss the Islamic point of view on whether women are responsible for sexual assaults due to their dress in one of my future columns. Presently, I would only like to talk about how such notions penetrate our minds and stay there.

Recently, I came across a very interesting article on the Mental Immune System (MIS), which said that raw material for beliefs and ideas reaches us through our senses and our br…

And the circus begins…

The alacrity with which another women’s bill was presented in the National Assembly (NA) soon after the Women’s Protection Bill (WPB) was passed, depicts how tactfully the government is playing its cards. The WPB was passed after months of ruckus created by the self-declared ‘guardians’ of Islam, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). This draft bill is in an attempt to assuage the mullahs. PML (Q) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain submitted the draft bill containing the six-point proposals of the Ulema committee to the NA Speaker on Thursday. The draft bill seeks an end to vinni, watta satta (barter marriages), forced marriages, women’s marriages to the Quran, depriving women of their inheritance and proposes legal action against those men who issue three divorces to their wives in one sitting. Although the bill in itself is a welcome initiative for the plight of women, the timing shows that it was a calculated move on the part of the government. One must not forget how the government w…

Purgatory

Your fate has been decided....
You are one of the lucky ones! Because of your virtue and beliefs, you have escaped eternal punishment. You are sent to Purgatory!

Purgatory

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You have escaped damnation and made it to Purgatory, a place where the dew of repentance washes off the stain of sin and girds the spirit with humility. Through contrition, confession, and satisfaction by works of righteousness, you must make your way up the mountain. As the sins are cleansed from your soul, you will be illuminated by the Sun of Divine Grace, and you will join other souls, smiling and happy, upon the summit of this mountain. Before long you will know the joys of Paradise as you ascend to the ethereal realm of Heaven.


The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
LevelScorePurgatory (Repenting Believers)Very HighLevel 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)LowLevel 2 (Lus…

Who is the ‘real’ enemy?

Recently, I had the good fortune of seeing Ajoka Theatre’s play Dushman, an adaptation of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. The play touches upon some of the most significant vices that plague Pakistan.

One issue is the usage of words like ‘jihad’ and ‘mard-e-mujahid’ in fiery speeches delivered by religious zealots and politicians alike. These words are used only to play with the emotions of the masses in order to win them over and use them for one’s own political goals. One thing that perturbs me though is: are we such an ignorant bunch of people that we cannot fathom right from wrong? Illiterate people can be forgiven for being taken for a ride due to their religious sentiments, but there is no excuse whatsoever for the so-called educated people who believe in such propaganda.

Anything that goes wrong in Pakistan is immediately blamed on India or the West, especially the US. It is ironic that we are so gullible as to disbelieve any authentic research or fact…

Dushman: a befitting tribute to Ibsen

Hamaara mohsin, hamaara saathi, Dr. Hadi, Dr. Hadi…” were the opening lines of Ajoka Theatre’s play Dushman, an adaptation of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. The play was directed by Madeeha Gohar who said that it was a tribute to the father of modern theatre, Ibsen, as 2006 marks his 100th death anniversary. The opening lines were being chanted loudly in a true jalsa-jaloos manner by some youths who were followed by five other people. The public rally begins with the compere introducing the main guests – Nazim Shadab Nagar Colonel Jabbar Ahmed and his brother Dr. Hadi Ahmed. The public meeting is being held in honour of Dr. Hadi, who through his research discovered that Shadab Nagar’s water has miraculous qualities, which led to a sharp rise in Shadab Nagar’s employment rate, business, tourism and real estate value. One of the guests, Ehsan-ul-Haq, who is the owner of a local newspaper, cable channel and a hotel, recites a poem in honour of Dr. Hadi that …