August 15th, 2018

The Shame of a Nation.13

Imran Khan. The only time I saw him play was in the World Cup 1992, and we won that World Cup, the only time we ever did. Until we win the next world cup (Sigh!), as in when we next win it, for me Pakistan’s moment of cricketing glory will always be that picture of Imran Khan lifting the World Cup aloft.

On what was one from a succession of the saddest days in our history, Imran Khan arrived at the Punjab University, the oldest cradle of learning in the city of “Zinda-dilan”, to lead a protest of students against the imposition of emergency. Imran is in his mid-50s, and can scarcely lay a claim to being one of those students – but if generation after generation of Pakistani youth ever had an icon, it was Imran Khan. Mobilizing the student body is the surest way of de-stablilizing a dictator – hark back to Ayub’s 60s – and Imran is thus the nation’s best shot. He rules hearts. He may not be the greatest thing that ever happened to the political scene, arguable as even that may be, he is head and shoulders above the lot of them politicians all. Upon his arrival, he was whisked away by the goons of IJT (Islami Jamiat Talaba – the student wing of Jamat-e-Islami that party of bigots and ignorants who enjoy no popular support but lay claim to all matters of National importance in the name of Islam whilst their actions are summarily in contradiction to all tenets of Islam), who manhandled him, locked him up, according to some reports even beat him up with some assistance from the Government goons in plain clothes, and then handed him over to the police force, who are filing anti-terrorism charges against him for inciting trouble.

As someone who has seen Jamiat’s ghundagardi first hand, albeit at a negligible scale comparatively speaking, I have never had any love lost for these rascals – but this time they went too far, way too far. Whether one agrees with Imran or not, nothing changes the fact that he is a National Hero, one of the VERY few we have, and this episode of him being manhandled by goons masquerading as students is outrageous and shameful.

Not that we need indicators to tell us how quickly we are spiraling downhill, but if we ever needed one, this is it. It is ironic that we should be losing an ODI series in India after almost a quarter of century, and lets remember ODIs came along a little over a quarter of a century ago, pretty much about the time we were disgracing ourselves manhandling the man who was called a tiger (should be called a Lion now), earned us the image of fighting tigers who may be down but never out, and won us the ODI World Cup. It is not about Cricket, and that is saying a lot, since it is always about Cricket, just this once it is not, but this just isn’t Cricket – if you know what I mean.

One hopes this will mark the beginning of the end for Jamiat + Jamaat (and Musharraf too, not to mention the MQMs, Chaudharies, Benazirs et al) … one hopes, and prays ever so fervently.

I salute each of these students who has come out to protest this despicable transgression. May Allah see us through these turbulent times. Ameen.

Comment Gone Lengthy – Emergency.1

It is unfortunate, isn’t it? When we have to settle for a dictator as a lesser evil, when looking to choose a leader?

But I do think we need to guard against the impression that the economic development which came about in Pakistan had anything to do with Musharraf. We did not see much of that ED in the two years preceding 9/11. Fact is our economy was actually in doldrums precisely because of the sanctions we had been saddled with because of Musharraf usurping power from the civilian Govt. Post 9/11 the west chose to lift those sanctions because it suited their purpose, just as they chose to turn a blind eye to the farce Musharraf had held in the name of elections recently, because it suited their purpose. The lifting of those sanctions, the trickling in of foreign aid – trickling because Musharraf accepted peanuts for putting Pakistan on the front-line of a war which is not ours in the first place, combined with the Arab states deciding to invest their petro-dollar in places other than the west after 9/11 and the ready availability of investment avenues in Pakistan, ironically because of the infra-structure the Sharrif Government had put in place, is what had led to the economic prosperity. Let us not forget that the economic prosperity has come at a great cost – the law and order situation has deteriorated, we are fighting a civil war in our own backyard, and for the first time in our history there are elements in our midst questioning the two-nation theory, the very premise of creation of Pakistan.

I disagree with the notion that there is such a thing as too much judicial interference.  The very purpose of having a judiciary is to ensure that the rule of law is followed, and the rights of a citizen are guaranteed, and every single citizen is innocent until proven guilty. These are basic human rights, which if not guaranteed can allow draconian rule to tighten its grip on a people, a country. The judiciary is well-within its rights to demand an explanation for any arrests, to ask for arrested people to be presented before it and to be charged with an offense, or be released from custody.

The judiciary must be convinced that there was credible proof to black-list those black-listed.

Suicide bombers are a curse, a curse we must rid ourselves of, and a curse we must defend the image of Islam from. But the imposition of emergency has very little to do with controlling the suicide bombings. What makes a suicide bomber, and where are all these suicide bombers coming from are two very important questions, but they are not pertinent to the emergency.

This emergency has been imposed because a dictator wishes to prolong his rule, and because he foresaw the judiciary throwing a spanner in his works, and it must be fought tooth and nail precisely because it threatens and goes against every tenet of Islam, and every standard of humanity.

Bigger countries with greater problems have not only survived crises after crises without emergency, but they have also come out the stronger for it. No one institution knows all the answers – it is only through strengthening all of the institutions, judiciary being foremost amongst them that nations conquer crises and turmoil. What falls outside of judiciary is extra-judicial, and there are few bigger curses than a Government with rampant extra-judicial ambitions.

It is a black black day, when an extra-judicial government bundles the judiciary out for interference in its extra-judicial activities.

We both come from the same premise, we want the best for the country. Quite apparently though we differ in what is better for the country, and that is what is important we must all have our opinion, and we must be able to differ without having to fear that too much differing will take us half a century back in time.

Movie Review: Khuda Ke Liye8

I had seen “Khuda ke Liye”, the movie, some time ago. It was a disappointing experience and I had wanted to share that disappointment here in knicqland. Nothing led to anything, and the sharing never happened. Incidentally, when the movie was released here in the UAE, a certain euphoria gripped the Pakistani community simply because here was finally a Pakistani movie decent enough to take your friends from across the border to. I wonder when will our collective India-fixation leave us. (Sigh!) Perhaps just about the time the Indian media is liberated from its Pakistan-fixation. Another discussion, another time. Anyway, I ended up getting drawn into a discussion, and thought I might as well make it into an update. Here goes then, a response sent in two installments:

a) Not the best of times to be airing one’s opinions on movies with everything else that is unfolding in the land of the pure. But let me limit my response to the topic, which is this movie which everyone seems to be so taken with.I am afraid I am going to come in for a lot of flak when I speak my mind, so let me start by conceding that the movie is a breath of fresh air when compared with standard Lollywood movies. I will happily concede the facts that the music, and production quality in this movie were not bad. We continue to call them exceptional because we draw comparisons with the tripe that is churned out by our film industry normally. We really must guard against setting the bar so low – fact is in this case one feels the bar is actually underground. On technical merits, however, from a layman’s perspective, and here I humbly present yours truly as the very personification of that layman, the movie is more than a few steps in the right direction. With its fresh and imaginative music one hopes the movie will be able to set a welcome precedent. But here, the positives end.
The movie is a shameful reiteration of all the stereo-types an average Pakistani, and an average Muslim must grapple with in a hostile world plagued by Islamophobia. Rather than set the record straight and present the facts as they are, the movie chooses to adopt the simplistic and superficial premise that our religious scholars, enlightened as they may be in the ways of the world (The Maulana chiding the western lady in English when she herself states stereotypes at the beginning of the movie), are conniving, devious and often deliberately ignorant lot who mislead our ‘naive’ young men into the corridors of extremism. In a few scenes, this maulana goes from a Dr. Asraar/Dr. Zakir to being Mullah Umar. They are shown to be the two sides of the same coin. The other notable flaws:
  1. The one maulana who lifts the veil on the reality of Islam, and the true message of Islam is shown listening to music in the background as he performs his ablution.
  2. The girl’s father who is worried about her ‘berahrawi’ and marrying into non-Muslims is shown to be a bigot of the first grade, himself guilty of adultery all his life.
  3. One of the protagonists is shown being confused and apologetic about the Islamic injunction that a Muslim man may marry from ahl-e-kitab, but a Muslim woman might not. Not surprisingly, but completely unrealistically, the protagonist is shown professing his undying love for the US just when the US forces are torturing him senseless – literally.

In the end, the movie seems to close with the message that music heals all, as the newly re-united family sits around a campfire and the music breathes life into the paralyzed body of one of the members – just before the reverted-to-music-ex-driven-to-extremism protagonist raises the Azan.

Our media and the so called ‘intellectual elite’ must stop being so apologetic about Islam. They have a responsibility to break the established stereo-types and tell the world Islam’s perspective on life, not a musician’s perspective of Islam.

A much much better job is one here by someone more in tune with what needs to be done today to counter the western propaganda.

b) What that fanatic mulla is made to say in that movie is often atrocious, and pretty much mostly un-Islamic. We all know that. And herein lies the basic flaw of the movie. It fails exactly where it had the greatest responsibility. The movie had to differentiate line between the ignorant mullah leading our village folk into the death fields and the learned scholar bringing our youth back to the basics of our deen. This mullah in the movie starts out as a Maulana Tariq if not Dr. Asraar, when he logically and knowledgeably guides an educated Muslim youth away from an un-Islamic way of life, but then he quickly transforms into a jaahil mullah who abets the kidnapping and forcing into a marriage of a young Muslim girl. Here one wonders if Shoaib Mansoor is venting his own frustration at having lost his protege to Maulana Tariq’s efforts.

Yes, it is a fact that Islam’s PR department is today hijacked by a few ignorant mullahs. The world already knows that. The world also thinks that all Muslim scholars and religious community leaders are similar ignorant bigots. The movie and those behind it, when aspiring to bring to fore the realities had an inherent responsibility to underline the fact that such mullahs were far and few, and while we may have a leadership crises, we still have amongst our ranks the likes of Dr. Asraar, Dr. Zakir Naik, Dr. Farhat, and Maulana Tariq who are doing a stupendous job of guiding the youth as well as non-youth on the path of deen.

The movie seems to tow the secular/western line as it assumes an apologetic tone about the tenets of Islam in the institution of marriage. It goes a step further, and continues to subtly imply that Music is indeed not discouraged in Islam, and that in prohibiting it the Muslim scholars are indeed not presenting the Islamic perspective. Nowhere is this point more subtly implied than the scene where while the ‘right’ Islamic scholar is shown performing ablution with a record playing in his room. Imagine a Dr. Israr or Dr. Naik doing this!

The implication in this scene is subtle, yet simple. If the scholarly authority on Islam who saves the day can listen to Music, and that too just as he is preparing to offer prayers, it is most certainly mubaah, not just allowed, to listen to Music.

This movie was less a presentation of the realities we Muslims face in today’s world, and more a case for the acceptance of Music as a deeni tenet no less.

Shoaib Mansoor seems to have sat down to himself wondering, “So who are the people who oppose Music?”. Perhaps he drew up a list of all such elements, and then proceeded to present them all in negative light in the guise of presenting the Muslim Perspective in the post 9/11 world.

The end result is just this: Do whatever you want, just let us have our music.

We have a history in the sub-continent of not only including un-Islamic practices in our deen, but also making them divinely ordained in due time. A pertinent example is Qawwali for instance. The reverence reserved by some for an otherwise entertaining art-form will have, and often does have foreigners thinking the Qawwali, ma’az Allah, is one of the pillars of Islam.

Here I am reminded of what Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi had to ay about Qawwali. He had no problems with Qawwali as an art form, worst things, he believed, were called art. His problem with Qawwali was that it had assumed the very personification of piety in assuming the role of an Islamic art-form.

I digress. But the point remains that when a Muslim speaks about Islam he must limit himself to what Islam says, not what he believes Islam ought to have said to accommodate his personal preferences.

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