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Of Muslims and Their ‘Brotherhood’

13 Jul

We often don’t pay attention to the things we say. Though trivial these things might appear to be, we don’t realize the impact they have on our surroundings, the tensions that they create in our society, and the mindsets they give birth to. Though clean our intentions may be, the listener doesn’t always interpret things exactly the way we see them.

A while ago, I finished praying Fajr. My sister pointed out that I was a bit (which was a few minutes only) ahead of schedule and that I had prayed according to Shia timings. I answered simply that they are Muslims too, and I think that was the most reasonable answer. The Azaan may be a bit different but it serves the same purpose. The method of praying may be different but it serves the same purpose. The interpretations of religion may be different but the Quran is exactly the same. We all fulfil the criteria to be called Muslims.

The other day, I was casually talking about how I wanted to marry an Irani girl. Dad said, “Well then she would be Shiite,” implying that she didn’t qualify to be called Muslim. I am a fairly conservative Muslim but hearing a person say (or imply) that Shias aren’t Muslims is as offensive to me as a westerner saying that Islam supports violence just because some maniac decided to blow up the Times Square.

When we create such mindsets and promote such beliefs, we only create more and more distance between us. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why there’s no such thing as ‘Muslim Brotherhood’.


No Excuses

28 Dec

I use the university shuttle service to travel between home and campus. On my way home, I’m always so tired that I involuntarily fall asleep in the bus, no matter how hard I try to stay awake. Today, I managed to stay awake for a longer duration than usual (though I almost always eventually give in) and had an opportunity to observe my surroundings.

It was time for the Maghrib prayer. Only one guy prayed in the bus.

I felt ashamed, not only for hardly ever turning towards God but also judging the guy’s faith from his looks earlier on.


4 May

My friend tells me that life is not a question of ‘what if’; it rather is about ‘now what’. In a world of status and honour, I probably wouldn’t agree with the idea. Those high profile corporates always live by the rule of ‘what if’. But I live with a frame of mind that doesn’t understand these worldly concepts of future-planning and whatnot. I live in a world that revolves around me all the time, and anything that doesn’t involve me is irrelevant.

But my friend who tells me of these long-abandoned ideas, reminds me that living the present is the way to spend time. But ‘me’ is a word that’s hard to forget, and harder to avoid.

My complacency keeps me from buying ideas that might sink my desires down the priority list. But then again, I don’t have a priority list; perhaps I have never noticed one in that tiny closet that houses secrets weighing thousands of tons. I will take time discovering my own closet, because everything doesn’t fall out of it when the doors open; even the known secrets have to be pulled out with scores of strength.

Strength, my friend, is what one requires to have enough faith in God to be able to move away from what-ifs, and it’s a shame I do not possess that much strength yet. My mother dearest says that negation of oneself is where the true acceptance of God’s existence begins. Will I be able to negate myself?


12 Mar

Sometimes, our mental capacity is not enough to realise the profundity behind God’s decisions. The present looks so bleak, that the future becomes incomprehensible to this human brain. And time, be it the past or the future, has always been a mystery to me and to you. Why do we feel the need to take decisions anyway? Why, all of a sudden, are we compelled to choose a path that is not ours? Why even, out of thin air, do we let ourselves build such paths? Untimely decisions, my friend, are what we regret the most as the consequences continue to grow on us. But untimely feelings… what about those? I say that this charlatan named Fate is playing a game with us. I say that we’re taking this game too seriously.

I made a decision last night. I know you did too. But by the time it was morning, I did not remember what I had decided before falling asleep, neither did it matter. It doesn’t matter. We can enjoy life as long as Fate doesn’t change its course. But you and I… we know that it’s going to change its course, for we can foresee where it is going. Fate isn’t that cunning after all, but it has played its part and will succeed in doing what we fear the most.

But then again, our mental capacity is not enough to realise the profundity behind God’s decisions. We can foresee the fate, but the fate and the future are two different things. We cannot foresee the future. How can we foresee the future when even the past is blurry? I believe in God, and you do too. We might not be close to Him, but He is close to us. So if things do not get better in a couple of years, they will in the next couple of years.

The Significance of Decision Making

17 Aug

Life is like a one-way street where you can’t take any u-turns, or like a pencil without an eraser. Every decision you make and every path you take, profoundly affects not only your future, but also the lives of the ones around you. Most of the times, we end up making quick decisions that almost always bring out a negative side of us, causing regret and great amount of stress. Sometimes, we make wrong decisions because of our dependency for decision-making on people who fail to understand our actual situation, for example, our life’s most crucial decisions mostly rely upon our parents’ wishes.

But mom, I don't think I'm ready for marriage yet.

But mom, I don't think I'm ready for marriage yet. (Photo credit: Arvind Balaraman)

There’s no point in living a life in which you do not make your own decisions. Letting others decide things for us is a very unhealthy exercise. And in a country like Pakistan (or any other Asian country for that matter), deciding something for your career without consulting the elders is considered a sin, even when the elders mostly end up ruining our lives because they wanted us to be doctors, engineers or architects.

“But dad, I’ll do better if I go for accounting.”
“Oh, you little! You know nothing about these things. You must go for engineering if you want a good career.”

And that’s when we lose ourselves. Our purpose to live a life truly based on our own choices immediately goes to waste when we choose a path that is not ours; a path we never pondered upon. That’s when we live a life where one would kill for a chance to turn back time and make the right decisions.

“Are you applying to AMC?”
“No, my mom won’t allow me to go so far away just for education. My best bet is Karachi.”

You know you are in trouble when your parents put a limit over your career choices. Pakistani moms often have this insecurity that if they send their children too far for education, they will end up getting into drugs and alcohol, or get kidnapped for ransom. Actually, most Pakistani moms can’t help their negative assumptions. Sometimes, they also have superstitions.

“My brother took dentistry and he died shortly after. I won’t let my child get into dentistry too.”

This is what makes me sick about Asian parents. I’m fortunate enough to have parents who don’t take decisions that are mine to make.

Apart from typical Asian parents, another drawback of our society is that we think mullahs are some kind of heavenly creatures who can never be wrong. For us, a mullah is above law and order, and every word he utters becomes a golden word for us. “Because Maulvi Sahab said so” is becoming a widely used answer to all the religious (and sometimes even non-religious) arguments. I don’t mean to spread hate, but these are the same mullahs whom mosques are powered by stolen electricity. Country’s law doesn’t mean anything to them; the only law that they care about is their modified form of Islam. Many of us consult mullahs when we are in trouble, because we think they can give us the right guidance.

Maulvi Sahab told me that viagra is a shortcut to hell, so I rather grew a beard. Sexy, ain't it?

Maulvi Sahab told me that viagra is a shortcut to hell, so I rather grew a beard. Sexy, ain't it?

What I want to point out here, is that we should learn to make decisions by ourselves, not base them over others’ wishes. The day you start thinking by yourself instead of asking others to think for you, you realize the real capability of a human brain. And even if you make wrong decisions, you won’t have anyone to blame, and eventually, you’ll learn to focus on your needs, instead of your wants. Take advices from everyone, but don’t let them overcome you. Being dependent on others earns you nothing but regret. You were born to be independent, and you are living this life to make this independence survive, for as long as you can.

Ramadan Special: The Mufti Effect

2 Aug

As soon as the news of the holy month of Ramzan (Ramadan for Arabic-speakers) start kicking in, everyone starts coming up with their own philosophies regarding how to keep your patience while fasting. On the other side, some insane people like me start to notice the shortcomings and humourous sides of people’s behaviour during the entire month (while munching a 10-rupee Kit Kat).

One of the most amazing aspects of the month of Ramzan is that it creates dramatically awkward changes in everyone’s psychology. One of them is called The Mufti Effect. (Actually, I have just named it this way because it sounds cool.)

The Mufti Effect

What exactly is The Mufti Effect? To put it in simple words, it’s basically bullshit. The greatest but most unknown characteristic of human psychology is that one can ACTUALLY believe anything he/she wants to believe. That’s when The Mufti Effect kicks in.

At the time of Sehr, people try to eat as much as possible so that they face least amount of weakness and/or hunger during the fast, but from the inside, they know it’s useless. As soon as the local Mullah/Mufti (I prefer the word Mufti) announces the closing of Sehr time, people automatically start getting thirsty, so they gulp in loads of water but in the end, The Mufti Effect dominates and they have nothing to do but give up.

The Mufti’s announcement somewhat forces people to believe that their stomach is an endless cave and a trillion miles deep well. It’s basically only the fear of starvation which gets woken up further by the Mufti, hence The Mufti Effect.


Atheism: A religion in itself?

1 Aug

An atheist is a person who simply denies the existence of God. Even in a country like Pakistan where a vast majority of the population is highly religiously conservative, atheism continues to slowly grow. In societies like these, most of the atheists decide to remain closeted because their lives would largely be at risk if they publicly announce their beliefs. However, in developed societies, such as Europe, being an atheist is usual practice now-a-days.

Atheism, in general, doesn’t sound objectionable but there always is an inevitable drawback of every belief, culture, society, or anything for that matter. In a normal society, you will find doctors, architects, lawyers, bankers, writers and many worthwhile personalities, but you will also find thieves, robbers, critics, pedophiles, sexists, etc. Similarly, there are a lot of atheists who will try their best to give you a headache, or according to them, try to bring you to the ‘right path’. In this post, I have tried to explain different kinds of atheists and their behaviour, based on what I have been observing lately.

Textbook Atheists – “I don’t believe in the existence of a god.”

The pure form of atheism, in my opinion, is when a person only minds one’s own business. “I don’t believe in a god, but I won’t force you to do the same.” Some of these atheists are closeted; others would openly express their views, but none of them would try to shove their belief down your throat. Even if they argue, they would try their best not to break the ethical barriers. These are the respectable people; the sort of people I would more than happily befriend. (P.s. I do have some atheist friends.)

‘Extremist’ Atheists – “There is no god! You just can’t prove it.”

Basically, atheism is NOT a religion, but some atheists treat it as one, without even realizing it. Most of them cross the ethical limits and clearly start insulting other faiths; some would do so to try to change your mind and turn you into an atheist too, others, only to ‘piss you off’ because you are a ‘bloody conservative’. They run after ‘logic’ so much, they don’t even realize they’ve broken their own logical boundaries. I call them extremists because just like the religious extremists, they are doing no good to humanity, only destroying it. Not to forget that they mostly spend their time surfing the internet, polluting websites like Reddit with their ‘pick up lines’ and anti-religious ‘comics’ that they take entire nights to figure out. Such type of atheism is totally unacceptable and should be strongly discouraged by every sane human being.

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