Bol key lab azad hain

Women are respectful no matter what family background they have, the number of years they have spent in school, their choice of profession, the size of their clothes and the kind of person they choose to be with. Finally, udaari had the guts to say all this on national TV and that too on a prime time show.

Everyone who knows me, knows I’m a huge fan of udaari. It has dared to do something no one has ever done before. And has succeeded in doing so too. It’s a story of singers from two different social classes and the behavior of people towards each. While the singers from ‘elite’ class get a lot of respect, singers from humble background (who might actually be better singers) are treated as mere ‘naachney gaaney wali’ unfortunately. A sad reality of our society.

It talks about real, strong women. The kind of women that we actually have in Pakistan. Women who do everything in their capacity to provide for and protect their children no matter how hard things might get. No, usually women in Pakistan are not ‘damsel in distress’ only waiting for their ‘prince charming’ to rescue them. Sheedan, meera, sajida, zebo, military are all very strong women in their own ways and are the kind of women I would like all Pakistani girls to aspire to be rather than mannu from Mann mayal.

It talks about the choice a girl can make in terms who she wants to get married to and when. When a guy proposes a girl and she declines, every one says that she has ‘friend zoned’ the guy. This statement takes away her right to choose a guy by her own will rather than social pressures. Udaari shows brilliantly that two people can still be friends, can still work together professionally even if the girl has rejected the boy’s proposal. It also talks about not getting married until you are completely sure of your decision and ready to settle down.

Finally, of course it talks about child abuse, domestic violence and sexual harassment. This was definitely the most important issue of all. We have been turning our faces away from it for too long. It’s only making the situation worse. Parents need to talk to their children about the difference between good touch and bad touch. Parents need to have a friendly relationship with their kids and must listen to whatever their children tell them with utmost attention. Children don’t lie and if they are scared of someone or a bit too fond of someone, it is the parents’ duty to probe further. Udaari talks about parenting and also how to legally deal with people if, God forbid, something bad happens.

It must not have been very easy to bring such a bold topic to our television screens but the team of udaari has been able to do rather marvelously. We must thank Momina Duraid and Kashf foundation to have the courage to fight against all odds to produce something like udaari. Of course, it would have been nothing without Farhat ishtiaq’s writing and Mohammed ehtishamuddin’s direction. Actors, both new and old, have given some of the best performances of their lives. Ahsan khan deserves all the awards for portraying imtiaz so well. And may God bless the little zebo and her parents for letting her being part of this project.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you must watch it now. If you have a daughter over 7 years of age, I would recommend you watch it with her. It will make it much easier to speak to her about a lot of things which are taboo in our society

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Procrastination

No its not Twitter, Facebook or Google Buzz. It might be for the youth but for the majority of Pakistanis, its politics. And arent we always asking the most stupid questions. Here are some of the most commonly discussed unsolved questions and my answers (you dont obviously have to agree to them 😛 ):

Should Pakistan have been created?

It was created more than 6 decades back. Can we talk about improvement instead?

Kashmir hamara hai.

LOL. Is that a joke? We have already lost half of our country. We are finding it difficult to hold on to wat we are left with. What will we do with a part of land which is not ours yet?

Pakistan should be an Islamic State.

It was established as Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1973 constitution.

Free judiciary (a.k.a. CJ mafia’s authority) will make Pakistan the most democratic, crime free country in the world.

Oh yea? Keep dreaming. It has only established a criminal, who attempted to murder the COAS, the most ‘trustworthy’ and ‘respected’ person in the country.

Only Khilafat-e-Rashida can save us.

Like Khilafat-e-Rashida saved the Khalifas themselves? I think we need to remind ourselves that both Hazrat Usman (RA) and Hazrat Ali (RA) were murdered by the so-called Muslims only. We only deserve people like Zardari to rule us.

The story of Majid Nawaz

Note: What follows is by Majid Nawaz himself and was published in Guardian.

Ten years ago, I was sent from Britain by a global Islamist group to recruit in Pakistan. Stepping off the plane in Lahore, I slowly breathed in the scene around me. With minarets and azans almost like background props and mood music, the Muslims I saw in every direction whetted my appetite for revolution. We were going to radicalise the country and foment a military coup against the democratically elected “client” ruler, Nawaz Sharif. I was 21 years old. I was part of a vanguard to set up a Pakistani branch of Hizb ut Tahrir (HT), so that their future caliphate could go nuclear. Nothing was going to get in my way. Nothing did.

Ten years on (during which I spent five years as a prisoner of conscience in Egypt), I recently returned. I had left HT and recanted Islamism. I was back, determined to reverse some of the Islamist fever I had helped instil. Whereas in 1999 Pakistanis thought my wife and I were Arabs due to her “Egyptian” headscarf, now rumours were rife about acid attacks on women walking the streets uncovered. I was older, wiser and smarter. This time, the revolution would be against Islamist hegemony.

I was on a four-week, nationwide university tour to speak against Islamism and to urge students towards pluralistic, democratic values. Contrary to western mythology, Islamist radicals are found among the educated, the elite and the socially mobile. Yes, a minority of Pakistani madrasas provide an ample supply of jihadists, but the ideologues are smart and modern.

Bin Laden, Zawahiri or, indeed, the many pseudo-intellectuals of HT are highly educated and socially mobile. Many madrasas are simply antiquated religious schools belonging to the conservative but apolitical Barelvis, Pakistan’s majority religious denomination. Jihadists despise this faction. Nine days ago, a jihadist blew himself up in a Pakistani mosque, murdering the leader of the Barelvis, Dr Sarfraz Naeemi. The poor are simply used as jihadist cannon fodder.

Thus it was that we began in Karachi and worked our way around the country. We ventured deep into the deserts of interior Sindh and then across into the turbulent outback of Quetta, Balochistan, where the Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are said to be headquartered. From there, we crossed into the Punjab, ascended into Kashmir and then finally up to Islamabad. In our flak jackets, with a security detail in tow, we addressed thousands of students.

In Quetta, armed separatist students threatened to shoot anyone coming to the talk. Their gripe was with the Pakistani government from which they wanted independence. Like so many things in Pakistan, our role in this was eventually settled over a cup of “chai”.

My first real taste of the diversity that is Pakistan came here. I met popular revolutionaries who despised Islamists, yet wanted to secede, in some cases by violence, from Pakistan and “Punjabi hegemony”. They began their speeches in the name of Allah, but ended with: “Death to Pakistan.” They blamed the “Punjabi” government squarely for the ills of jihadism. Destroying Pakistan was not exactly on my agenda.

Pakistan and its problems are not monolithic and are not all related to Islamism. Corruption, ethnic and economic factors and a lack of leadership all play out differently in each province. I found the people of Sindh to be hugely sympathetic to our message. Conversely, the people of Mirpur, in “free” Kashmir, from where more than 90% of British Pakistanis come, and where sterling is a currency of choice, were hostile to the west. It was in Punjab where I found most of the denial culture. The west was to blame for everything, including sending me as an agent to set up HT in Pakistan and then as an agent trying to push back HT. You see, the trouble with conspiracy theories is that they were invented by the infidel west to stop Muslims thinking.

In Lahore, I was attacked by a British member of HT. He, like many others, had left the UK to recruit vulnerable Pakistani students. He was also a teacher at a private university. After this attack, we started receiving death threats. Our security advised us to cancel the rest of the tour. We chose to carry on.

It is true that Pakistan has exported its fair share of Jamaat-e-Islami Islamists and pro-Taliban jihadists to British shores. Many Pakistanis are in denial about the role their country has played in the growth of Islamism and jihadism. When we pushed them, however, most acknowledged the rise of the “religious right”. Denial is never a good thing when trying to solve a problem.

Here in the UK, after the release without charge of the 12 Pakistani student terrorism suspects, we could do with a dose of truth serum too. During the rise of British Islamism in the 1990s, HT was exported to Pakistan from Britain by the likes of me. In London, in 2000, I met Sandhurst-trained Pakistani officers who had been recruited from here and were being sent back to Pakistan to instigate a military coup.

The man who physically attacked me was a British citizen who joined HT in the UK. British members of HT also played crucial roles in exporting their group to Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Mauritius, India, Egypt and Denmark, among others. I know because in each case I know the people who did it. Only when the people and governments of Britain and Pakistan take responsibility for the rot on their doorsteps can we start moving seriously towards solutions for the problem of extremism.

Our tour was partly to initiate such a thought process. By showing people that one does not have to be against Islam to be against Islamism, we hope to resolve the moral dilemma that many face.

Military means can only ever be a stop-gap. As the near Taliban takeover in the northern regions of Pakistan showed, if civil society cannot segregate the masses from Islamists, then American drone attacks will be the least of our worries.

All that glitters

…is definitely not gold.

People seem to be so happy and content in their lives as long as they are mere acquaintances. Once you get to know them, you find out it was just the fake facade. Deep inside, they have problems which are probably much bigger in magnitude than the ones which you consider to be fatal.

B is a bubbly woman, always cheerful and very energetic. Her dad died when she was 9. Her mom wasnt able to find a well paid job and they were forced to sell off their house, their car and other possessions. Her mom couldnt take it all and ended up getting a malignant cancer just 4 years later. B started working when she was only 17 and became the sole bread earner for her family. Just 2 years later her mom died too when B was merely in the first year of BSc. B is a strong woman. She continued with her education while working and is now doing her MPhill from Karachi University.

S was my student and that too a good one. She has a cancer in her uterus and she is only 21. Her dad died when she was 14 in a road accident that also left her mom with a hip fracture that hasnt healed perfectly as yet. Her elder brother married and left them because he couldnt support them. Her younger brother is only 17 now.

And you thought you were going through a lot?

But thats not the only point that I wanted to make with this post. There was something else too. Do you think people like S and B have done something wrong to be having so many different problems in life? Or its just a test from Allah (SWT)?

I am sure you have met, seen, been with people who think that if they are successful, they are doing everything correct…May Allah (SWT) help us all from falling into this trap of the Shaitan. Here’s a great video by Baba Ali.

Do more

Continued from the previous post. Obviously wat follows is merely my opinion based on wat I have read, seen and gone through. It will be a bit random as I am only trying to put everything in one single post.

After the death of the Prophet (SAW), the time of the Caliphate of Hazrat Omar (RA) is usually deemed to be the time wen the maqasid of sharia were being achieved although a lot of people had (and still have) reservations. Obviously, the best time has to be that of the Khulfa-e-rashideen but the other three Khulfa had to deal with many civil wars during their eras and most of the time we forget talking about their reforms and ‘good governance’. Since then, there has been no muslim ruler (Hazrat Omar (RA) hated to be called a ruler, he preferred the modest Ameer-ul-momineen) who has been able to achieve even a fraction of that.

Today, as we see the world, it is a shame that it is in fact the Scandinavian countries that come close to achieving the maqasid of sharia. Obviously they have laws that permit vulagrity, illegitimate live-in couples and so on so forth but they value life and the government protects their right to be allowed to practice the religion they belong to, to get free education, to get opportunities of employment and to get their wealth and property protected (arsonists dont go around burning other people’s property there).

Challenging the writ of the State

Soon after the death of the Prophet (SAW), the Ridda Wars broke out because Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq’s (RA) Caliphate was not accepted and the writ of the State was challenged. The issue got so heated up that there was no option but to go on war.

Although there were lot more misunderstandings in the coming years, the writ of the state was once again challenged in a brutal way during Jang-e-Siffin by a group of people who were known to be very pious Muslims but in fact ended up calling Hazrat Ali (RA) kafir. This whole issue led to Jang-e-Neherwan and later shahadat of Hazrat Ali (RA).

Today, the writ of the state is being challenged in the worst manner. I dont like the government and it is their mistakes that its all come so far.

It is important to understand that everyone sporting a beard is not someone who has the authority to implement a sharia. The Prophet (SAW) has very clearly talked about such people: “There would be a group of people among you who would recite the Book but it will not go beyond their throats, they would pass through teachings of the Deen as an arrow passes through the prey. They would kill the followers of Islam and spare the idol-worshippers.” [Sahih Muslim]

Zaid Hamid on Operation Rah-e-Haq

PS: I am not a Zaid Hamid fan and I do not necessarily agree with everything that he says but I think he has summed it up quite well in the video