Sunday, August 19, 2012

“EID IN PAKISTAN: Overcoming the love of self!”

“It was probably close to Isha prayers, it would have been 7 or 8 at night. I went in there and I couldn’t believe there were about a 1000 people at the mosque. I thought subhan Allah look at this religion, look at how strong they are! [pause] it was the first night of Ramdan [laughs] ‘Ramdan Muslims’.” Abu bakr shares his feeling about the night he converted Islam.

Sadly! we are slowly losing the entitlement of even being termed as the ‘Ramdan Muslims’. The zeal with which we should look forward to Ramdan has been replaced by the resentment on season, environment and time of year Ramdan has arrived at. Of little that I know about Islam, I know it is not a religion of imposition or force. Well! I think a lot of people know that already, they do practice it for skipping fasts for sure.  Eid has become another day for us on which we can sleep late, have food and send in Eid messages. It’s a gift from God for someone who has kept fasts in the holy month of Ramdan, which is filled with blessings. The excitement with which one should looking forward to this event has been lost with its meaning.

Unfortunately, the importance of Islam in our lives is limited to the extent of being emotional and aggressive when something is being said or done against its preaching. What’s more anguishing is that we, in our routine lives, do so many things that are contrary to the teaching of Islam, some have been declared as ‘haram’ (forbidden). Drugs, interest, dowry, backbiting (more popularly known as gossiping), lying, disobeying elders are just a few things that are so common in our society that they have become acceptable.

This attitude of ours is not confined to religion only, but also our country. Why wouldn’t it be same towards state and religion in Pakistan? Pakistan after all was made in the name of Islam. There is this popular TV commercial playing these days which has the following lines from a patriotic song:

Hum laiye hai toofah sae kashti nikal keh       iss mulk ku rukhna meray bachu sambhal ke
[We have brought the ship out of the thunder      My kids! Please take care of this country]   
And what have the younger generation done about it? They don’t vote, they want to settle abroad, they complain about the system, they look for references to get their jobs done, they don’t even study properly.
Having Ramdan and Independence together in the same month, once again, is a mirror for Pakistani, by large. And it is showing an ugly picture that we have made out of this country and religion for whose independence our forefather fought with integrity and proclaimed it with pride. Where have we taken this country in 65 years? Were we better off being oppressed by the majority? Are we confused by chance or by choice? Neither religion nor state, why are we not sincere to anyone? Is it another conspiracy theory or we are just a lethargic nation? Is being aggressive, patriotic and emotional only on the social media good enough a duty of the literate youth of Pakistan? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jinnah ka Pakistan sae George ka Pakistan taak

Iffi, our 16-year-old American born desi cousin was always questioning his roots. One day when the patriot kid was complaining how his parents had kept him away from his culture, the Pakistani couple instantly decided to send Iffi to Pakistan in summers. We and my aunt live together in a joint family system; so Iffi instantly decided to stay with us. Zain and Iffi are the same age so naturally, Zain was responsible for Iffi’s religio-socio-cultural tour in Pakistan.

After partying till dawn, Zain and Iffi would go to sleep after having sehri. The fast was easy, Zain only got up to offer prayers and recited the holy book half an hour before iftar. Iftar was delicious and the nicotine doze afterwards made it soothing. Zain’s routine to me is pretty usual. She does well at school and her parents are happy with her.

Iffi was a branded gora kid so he instantly became popular among Zain’s friends; who at one end hate American policies for Pakistan but on the other fancy their language, their brands, their life styles and anyone who follows them. Some of them drank occasionally, some had girlfriends/ boyfriends, some, who, religious lived by the Islamic values even refused to socialize with Iffi.

Iffi was probably more confused about his identity now than before. He was neither expecting Saudia nor Malaysia but he, probably like most of us, didn’t know which one to choose over the other. At one dimension he thought Veena was right that she has the right to choose what she wants to do, on another he thought she does represents the ‘Islamic republic of Pakistan’ so that should be her consideration too while deciding what she wants to do, on yet another angle he just couldn’t observe that the preachers of Islam can’t tolerate the minorities settled in Pakistan when Islam lessons equality, justice, mercy. He shared, probably to confuse us too, that:

“It grieves me that whenever I see a group of men in beard wearing shalwar kamiz, terrorists or fundamentalist are the first things that pop into my mind. When actually they have adopted to even adjust their life styles according to the same religion that I follow- that calls for a lot of respect from a fellow Muslim. I don’t know if media is the culprit here or a few rotten eggs but this is wrong by all definitions. I thought coming to Pakistan will change that image, but it didn’t. It also grieves me that when I see a hot chick, if I may say, wearing skinny jeans and a backless shirt; modern and cool are the first impressions I get. That’s not modernity to Islam. I am no one to judge either of the mentioned; the hot chick might be a better Muslim. What is our identity, anyway?”

My uncle answered him that, “We are neither secular nor theocratic but we have lost tolerance for other communities residing with us. And this tug-of-war between the two extremist classes is not only increasing this intolerance, which consequently even turns in violence, but also confusing us more about our identities. You should know that you are a Muslim and a Pakistani, wherever you are, and be loyal to your identity in your own way, not the media’s way or the popular way but your way.”

I don’t know if that helped Iffi, but it did help me. One thing Iffi was happy about before leaving was that he was not an ABCD because he didn’t know his roots but he was an ABCD because desi’s, anywhere are confused, even in their own country. LOVE PAKISTAN!