Browsing "Ramazan"
Jul 15, 2013 - Pakistan, Ramazan, religion    4 Comments

Violence and the religious sanction it gets in Pakistan

My facebook Timeline has a couple items that were repeatedly shared by many today.

The first was a video of a security guard who was attacked by religious zealots for eating during the fasting hours in the month of Ramazan (when all adult Muslims are supposed to fast from sunrise to sun down). He was attacked for not upholding the sanctity of Ramazan. There are quite a few people on Facebook who supported this act of violence by saying that eating is not allowed by law in Pakistan and that security guard should not have eaten.

The second was the photo of Abrar Hussain – a former Olympian and a Gold Medalist Boxer – who was gunned down in Quetta sometime back (4 other Hazaras were killed in Quetta today). His crime was that he was a Hazara Shia. It has been an open season on Hazaras and Quetta has become a killing field where terrorists of Laskhar e Jhangvi roam free and kill their prey at will.

Abrar Hussain - from his meeting with his idol Muhammad Ali to a bloodied bullet ridden body


I wont go into the details of Hazara killings because far more qualified people have written heartfelt pieces on the plight of Hazaras in Pakistan. I have just one question for everyone who reads it. Are these not acts of sheer barbarism and against everything that decent and human? As these acts are carried out in name of religion, isn’t there something seriously wrong with the way it has pervaded our society and provides sanction to most heinous of crimes?

If you condone above acts of barbarism, then I have nothing further to say to you but if you condemn beating up people for not fasting during the month of Ramazan or randomly killing them because they practice a different version of faith then please, don’t stay silent and separate religion from everything else – law, public spaces, government, social interactions and legislation. Religion should be a way that lets the believers connect with God, it should not give license to the practitioners of any faith to kill and persecute others.

Please think and reflect, it is as simple as that.
Photo courtesy: Traitors of Pakistan

Ladies of iftaar, Imran Khan and vampires

A man who was bitten by a radioactive spider once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Similarly, ever year, with Ramazan come hordes of iftaar invitations. Now iftaar parties are not regular get-togethers where people eat and gossip to their heart’s desires. The iftaar invitations come with a hint of holiness that surrounds everything in Ramazan; men and women segregate because they want to offer Maghrib prayers and somehow stay segregated, which usually results in some very interesting and at times entertaining conversation.
Like every other time of the year, ladies talk about things that are discussed in the popular media. This year, they talked about the color palette of Aamir Liaquat’s kurta collection and his cooking abilities – the opinion of the ladies of iftaar was divided on his godliness and piety but they all agreed that the man can cook. One even made her husband watch the cooking segment, hoping he would take the hint. (He didn’t.)

Aamir Liaquat, running away with someone’s child

Quite a few discussed their annual Ramazan Umrah stories from the years past and those who were going for Umrah this year discussed their hotels and their proximity to Haram, flight details and shopping options, as many are coming back via Abu Dhabi or Dubai and plan to pick up a Sabyasachi sari and Dorothy Perkins heels for Eid.
Another topic that was heatedly discussed among the ladies was whether Shaukat Khanam still is a viable option for zakaat donations. The unanimous verdict was that a man as handsome as Imran Khan and one who can speak such perfect English just cannot be bad; it followed (logically, you understand) that Khwaja Asif was the devil’s spawn for trying to besmirch the good name of the good-looking Khan, and Shuakat Khanum stayed a viable zakaat option.
Imran Khan the eternal ladies man

Actually Imran Khan is a favourite topic of conversation among the ladies of iftaar. They discuss his wardrobe, his children, his political options and aspirations, his house and of course his love life. One lady was actually praying at iftaar time that her clan elders should decide to support a PTI candidate. When asked why she wanted this to happen, she said she wants Imran Khan to become the Prime Minister. Her argument was that the only two good looking men (Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi) in their fifties are in PTI and if PTI is voted into the assembly, the ladies will get to see them more often on TV. I wanted to point out that Imran Khan is turning sixty later this year but decided not to burst the lady’s bubble. I wonder how the Sharif brothers will respond to this kind of public opinion if it becomes widespread. They may not be as genetically gifted as Khan or Qureshi, but they should get full marks for making an effort and going through the painful process of hair transplants to make themselves attractive to the voting ladies.

If the mommies discussed good-looking men when they were away from the daddies for Maghrib prayers, the preteens were just as vocal in expressing their adoration for the leading men from The Hunger Games and Twilight series. I would not have believed it if I had not witnessed a 12-year old asking her cousin, a dentistry student, to make her fake fangs because she too wants to look like Edward Cullen. When I said that she would also require copious amounts of deathly white powder to look like him (much to my shame, I know exactly who Edward Cullen is, but then I have taught teenage girls in the past so that should explain it), she giggled and said that she only wanted his fangs. The dentistry student just rolled her eyes and confided in me that many young girls and boys who come to the clinic where she is interning ask for little disposable fangs as a compensation for going through painful dental procedures.

If you thought vampires were only popular among preteens, you are mistaken. During one of the iftaar parties, I sat down with two ladies after the Maghrib prayers. One even had prayer beads in her hands but both were very busy debating who is the hottest vampire on TV, whether it is Damon Salvatore or Eric Northman. Apparently they are both bad boy vampires from two different TV series (I was told one show cannot have more than one hot blue-eyed super sexy vampire) fighting for the affections of human girls. When they could not settle on who the hottest vampire is, they turned to me to cast the deciding vote. Even though I watch a lot of trash TV, I draw the line at vampire and werewolf shows, so I couldn’t help them (I googled them later of course). Discussing hotness of vampires on a prayer mat after maghrib was something I never thought I would witness but I guess life surprises you in strangest ways, especially during Ramazans. 

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore & Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Northman

First published in The Friday Times