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Monday, October 23, 2006

eid and diwali mubarak

duas for peace and health
for you and family

t and M

(with the changing calendars it will be another 29-30 years these two festivite will appear again this close)

monday masks

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commuters in monday masks
measured movements
zombie eyes

a child with a disney backpack
looks up and our smiles clash

at the office there are
more monday demeanors
sue wants to know
'why are you so upbeat?'
- 'half full'
'half full? mondays are so long'
- 'yes but friday is only four days away'
'i dislike Mondays'
- 'half empty?'
she rolls her eyes

Media Roundup: Olmert Shouts Ahmadinejad Yells - Bush Admits Failure - Experiments In Invisibility - Brown in Futre and Brown in Domination

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Iran would have "a price to pay": Olmert

Jerusalem, Oct. 20 (AP): Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has warned that Iran would have "a price to pay" if it does not back down from its nuclear ambitions, hinting broadly that Israel might be forced to take action -- his strongest words yet about the Iranian threat.

This on a day when Bush admits US tactics to bring peace to Baghdad have failed. Olmert who is only in office because of a stroke suffered by Ariel Sharon obviously has not learned the lessons from his recent foray into south Lebanon.

Bush Aide Sees a Parallel Between Vietnam and Iraq
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 — President Bush's chief spokesman drew a parallel today between the latest carnage in Iraq and the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, declaring that Iraqi terrorists are trying to turn American public opinion as the Communists did in Southeast Asia nearly four decades ago.

Anyone remember the long drawn negotiations in Paris between Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho?

And the other day it was reported that Kissinger briefed the Bush Administration.

A sad and brutal question. How many more body bags before think-tanks and lobby groups pressure the Administration to pull back from Iraq? Where is that Mission Accomplished banner from the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln?

Iran warns of revenge over Israel

Ahmadinejad has questioned the extent of the Holocaust many times. Iran's president has warned that Muslims around the world will take revenge on states who supported Israel against the Palestinians.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again questioned the extent of the Holocaust, when German Nazis murdered six million Jews.

Israel was founded on "claims about the Holocaust" for which the Palestinians were paying the price, he told a rally.

He was speaking on Jerusalem Day, when there are large demonstrations in Iran in support of the Palestinians.

I'm sure nobody in Tehran or Tel Aviv loses sleep over these statements. But, I bet both get political mileage out of these. Meanwhile the rest of the world waits with bated breath for another nuclear holocaust.

Priest Admits Being Naked With Foley

A Roman Catholic diocese has opened an investigation of a priest who said he fondled and shared saunas while naked with Mark Foley when the former U.S. congressman was a boy in Florida.

As if that Bavarian Pope has not enough people-dealing problems on hand!

Cloak of invisibility fascinates
WASHINGTON - Becoming invisible has always been regarded as man's last frontier. Although the concept has so far been confined to fiction notably in the Ring of Gyges and Harry Potter, scientists have not given up on it. Now a team of scientists led by colleagues at the Duke University may have developed a new technology that can be a harbinger to bigger things.

I can think of several people who will line up to be the prototypes: Mark Foley, the real President Dickie Cheney, George Bush. Osama bin Bush and one eyed Mullah Omar stumbled upon this high-tech gear years ago.

Evolution expert fears human species will be split into two sub-species

Homo sapiens may undergo further evolution in some 100,000 years and will be split into two sub-species, an evolution expert has predicted. One of these species will acquire characteristics of being tall, healthy, attractive, intelligent and creative, while the other will be short, ugly and dim-witted creatures.

Dr Oliver Curry of the Darwin@LSE research centre at the London School of Economics, says an average human being will be of six ft. six inch in height, will have brown skin and will even live up to the age of 120 by the year 3,000 A.D, all these made possible by newer trends in nutrition, medicine and migration. More importantly racial differences will become less pronounced, he said.

Thanks Aaman for this and the next link. I bet Dr.Curry is an optimist. He talks of 100,000 years! The way the Olmerts and Ahmadinejads and Kim Il-whatever are sabre rattling, the way we are collectively abusing the environment, the way Osama is praying, this world may go up in flames a lot sooner. No wonder I have not switched to winter radials.

India's money buys ambition

The arrogance of Indian cricket at the moment beggars belief. It has become the game's imperialist and is revelling in the discomfort being felt by the rest of the cricket world.

And make no mistake, the rest of the cricket world is living in fear of the brash and bolshy Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which apparently intends to usurp the International Cricket Council (ICC).

That it has neither the wherewithal nor wisdom to convincingly run the game in its own country apparently matters not a jot. It is hell-bent on running the game throughout the world.

Notice the news source? And then this the discomfort being felt by the rest of the cricket world.?

As long as "they" exercised power it was OK. As the ground realities shift they become uncomfortable. Should someone tell them the golden rule: he who has the gold....

The Great Experiment

Is it possible to force a whole people to submit to foreign occupation by starving it?

That is, certainly, an interesting question. So interesting, indeed, that the governments of Israel and the United States, in close cooperation with Europe, are now engaged in a rigorous scientific experiment in order to obtain a definitive answer.

The laboratory for the experiment is the Gaza Strip, and the guinea pigs are the million and a quarter Palestinians living there.

This is a great humanitarian/scientific experiment. And if it works there are tremendous possibilities for its repetition in other spots - Chechenya, Darfur, North Waziristan, Southern Thailand.....

Uri Avnery ends his column with these words, "I hope the Nobel Committee is watching."

The lure of fundamentalism

What is fundamentalism? Please understand that when we talk of fundamentalism we are not talking of any particular religious group. We are not talking of Jews, we are not talking of Muslims, we are not talking of Hindus, we are not talking of Christians. We are not talking of any particular group because this is a human phenomenon and fundamentally or perhaps I shouldn't use the word fundamentally, basically all human beings are more or less alike and all of us have struggled with basically similar kinds of problems. There are two problems that we all struggle with. In fact, all human problems can be boiled down to two fundamental problems. One, that some things are impossible and two, that a few others are prohibited. If you can swallow this bitter pill, I think you are fine (you'll never need to see Dr. Sudhir Kakar, me or any other psychoanalyst!).

Kamla Bhatt wrote on "Dr. Salman Akhtar on Bollywood and Indan Unconsiousness." To me the fundamentalists of any stripe - the born-agains - have to be dealt with with utter suspicion. Be very skeptical of an Osama-Bush types who cannot communicate with us but do so easily with their gods.

Veil row woman may get legal aid

The lawyer representing the Muslim teaching assistant who was suspended for refusing to remove her veil in the classroom says he is hopeful of securing legal aid to continue her fight.

On Thursday, an employment tribunal ruled that 24-year-old Aishah Azmi was not discriminated against or harassed by Headfield Church of England Junior School, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Sometimes, well, more times in recent times, I shake my head in utter amazement. Issues such as purdah, hijab, niqab and other cultural and traditional customs that have assumed the significance of religious dictates cause chaos and problems everywhere.

There is a very obvious and simple solution for Muslims who demand to maintain their own customs and traditions when they migrate to the west: teach them their religion.

Give them mandatory classes in their religion. Teach them about how Sharia and Islamic laws are to affect them in dar ul islam and what their religion says about the application of those laws in dar ul har'b. Brief hint: there is a leeway. Maybe "tbs" can write an article on this?

aakhir maiN

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in the dissolution
there is no end
just one more beginning

a genesis
that has no term
adds to the enigma
of her smile

a cumulonimbus
with many faces
cavorts with the sunrays

while the negritude
of the dogmatist mind
suffuses their hearts
bigots, wars, deaths
chameleon resurrections
oblivious to ratiocination

and impervious me
am lost in that smile

timeless tales

hey koi khareedar?
achchaa hay maal, lay lo!
achchaa hay maal
sasta hay maal, lay lo!

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yeh mad'd o jaz'r zindagi kay
the ebb and flow of life
subterranean constraints
in their tenuous hold
their master's dreams, desires
nightmares, she says!


high noon in a dark church
the first in the Caribbean, sir
flaking stone slabs, benches
covered in layers of dust
strafed with dried pigeon droppings
creating mar's surface maps
the walls witness to fervent
prayers, pleas and sighs
of worshippers long dust
now peace ................ silence
and pigeons with no olive branch
pigeons remind me of jamil naqsh

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aisay hee guzray sajdouN ki baaz-gasht
sha'aer e mashriq nay suni hogi
musjid e qurtuba kay sukooN ko
darham kartay hu'aye

(a similar echo of past reverence
the poet of the east must have heard
reverberating in the peace
of cordoba mosque's courtyard)

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in the marketplace sun
idols and ideals
competing for (market) share
freedom and choices aplenty
horns and speakers in competition

'my god
comes with better warranty, man'

'listen sir
your salvation lies with my god

kiosks selling bootlegged marley
t-shirts with pictures and puns
the wrinkled gap toothed cobbler
with a smile and an afro cap
the big mama selling fruits
sounds of life's disarray
lining the street in sun

hard to imagine
a year since earth trembled

Monday, October 16, 2006

Media Roundup: On a Nice Sunny Day in Toronto, Buffalo Snowed, Tigers Rolled, The Buddha Was Embraced

It is a nice sunny day outside, some people still strutting about in shorts but most in warmer clothing.

A hundred kilometers from here western New York got buried under two feet of snow.

The cinderalla Detroit Tigers are on a roll too. And a post script: Magglio Ordonez's two out home run earned Detroit the ALCS championship and a trip to the World Series.

Aamna sent me this:

WASHINGTON: Simon and Schuster, the publishers of Gen Musharraf's famous autobiography, will launch another memoir of a Pakistani on October 31, thus unleashing an interesting race of whose work sells more.

But the new memoir is already a best seller and has been translated into 20 languages, including Hindi and Hebrew, but surprisingly not in Urdu. It is the horrific tale of Mukhtaran Mai, the celebrated Meerawali victim of a world famous gang rape, by Shaheen Sehbai

I haven't seen Shaheen's name since he disbanded SAT (South Asian Times). So the Fauji would have some book competition with Mukhtaran Mai. Well, good for everyone, even though I have a feeling that she is used as a lightening rod at times.

In her unfinished Final Dispatch assassinated Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya writes:

Recently, at Russia's request, Ukraine handed over a certain Beslan Gadaev to Moscow. He is a Chechen and was arrested at the start of August in Crimea during a document check.

And she continued quoting from a letter Gadaev sent her describing his torture at the hands of the Russians. After describing in detail the torture (read it if you are brave) she quotes,

Around lunchtime, a policeman in civilian clothing came up to me and told me some journalists had come to see me and that I had to confess to three murders and a robbery.

"He said that if I didn't agree they would repeat everything (the torture) and would break me by sexually assaulting me in some way. I agreed to comply and gave an interview to the journalists and they (the police) forced me to testify that the injuries I had received from them had been sustained in the course of an escape attempt..."

Zaur Zakriev, a lawyer defending Beslan Gadaev, informed Memorial (a human rights organisation) that his client had suffered physical and psychological violence on the premises of the Grozny police force.

Bill Varner reports on the 15-0 vote at the Security Council to push North Korea back into the dog house. "The measure bars the sale or transfer of missiles, warships, tanks, attack helicopters and combat aircraft, as well as missile- and nuclear-related goods to the North Korean government. It calls for UN member nations to conduct 'inspection of cargo' going to or from North Korea."

Wonder if the costs of bootlegged cigarettes, medicines and videos will go up.

Professor Muhammed Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006.

Speaking to The Times at the modest headquarters of his Grameen Bank, the Bangladeshi economist urged the international community to adopt his system of microcredit to help to pull the world's poorest out of destitution.

Twenty-seven dollars well spent!

Despite intense condemnation and pressure the occupying army led by musharraf and the nine cats refuses to repeal the travesty that is the
Hudood Ordinaces.

AI, therefore continues to call for the repeal of the Zina laws and ending practices that are discriminatory toward women and girls, in accordance with international human rights standards. These standards are to be found, among other international treaties and declarations, in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Pakistan is not a state party), the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Pakistan is a state party), the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Pakistan is a state party).

  • Make all rape and other sexual attacks, including of spouses, a crime;

  • Exercise due diligence in promoting and protecting all human rights of women, including the right to full equality in law and in practice;

  • In particular, abolish all legal provisions that discriminate against women, whether explicitly or implicitly, including the inadmissibility of evidence by women, and especially by rape victims, as well as any excessive burden of proof for rape and other forms of sexual attacks or exploitation;

  • Ensure, in law and in practice, that all girls, namely females under the age of 18, are protected from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse; and

  • Ensure, in law and in practice, that detainees are either tried promptly or else are released pending their trial.

Ban Ki-moon is confirmed as the new Secretary General of the UN and he says he'll help tackle the North Korean crisis.

Good luck and a Nobel awaits him if he succeeds. Taking bets against this.

Untouchables embrace the Buddhato escape oppression. Well, I guess they are not interested in Houris. (Caveat: not for the humour-impaired.)

Tejeswi Pratima writes about Hyderabadi Haleem. Is this the one outside Char Minaar, Balaji? Here is an untried recipe for Hyderabadi Haleem

Herschelle Gibbs talks and Zimbabwe and Bangladesh walk.

Haleem anyone?

If you want to submit a post on any of these topics, or if this inspires you to submit a post on any related subject please do so.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Eqbal Ahmad: Writer, Peace Activist, And to Many, Just Eqbal

[Note: Article authored by Beena Sarwar, Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts]

The Life and Times of Eqbal Ahmad

Eqbal Ahmad's writings are compulsory reading for anyone who wants to understand and improve the state of the world today. Oxford University Press in Pakistan published Between Past and Future: A Collection of Essays on South Asia, edited by his daughter Dohra Ahmad, nephew Iftikhar Ahmad, and Zia Mian in 2004.

The Selected Writings of Eqbal Ahmad (Columbia University Press), launched on September 28, 2006, in Cambridge, MA, adds to this essential reading list. It is expected to be available in Pakistan and India too.

Eqbal had graduated from Forman Christian College in Lahore - incidentally, also the alma mater of Gen. Musharraf. He spoke fluent Urdu and English, as well French and Arabic. When he first met Julie, later his wife, in France in the 1960s, they spoke in French and she didn't realise right away that he also spoke English.

During the Zia years, Eqbal was unable to return to Pakistan as he faced treason charges punishable by death. He held prestigious academic positions abroad, but found the forced exile extremely painful. By the time he came back, after Zia's death, he was already a legendary figure in Pakistan, anathema to the establishment but embraced by human rights activists and the intelligentsia.

He was among those who conceptualised and gave direction to the Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy, or PIPFPD, established in 1994 to facilitate people-to-people dialogue between ordinary Indians and Pakistanis. PIPFPD has since then grown tremendously, with many offshoots all over both countries. It was the first forum to articulate the formula that Kashmir should not be seen as a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, but as a matter of the lives and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, who must be included in any dialogue to resolve the issue – a formulation that has finally seeped into public discourse and government discussions.

Eqbal supported freedom struggles around the world. Fidel Castro sent him Cuban cigars, but stopped when Eqbal continued to argue for greater civil liberties and democracy. The Indian historian Radha Kumar (who introduces the South Asian portion of this book), says that Yasser Arafat showed her the chair that Eqbal liked to sit in. This friendship too, dimmed when Eqbal stuck to his stand for non-violent strategies and dismissed Oslo as bringing unsustainable peace at the cost of the Palestinian people.

After 1990, Eqbal rented a small house in Islamabad and divided his time between America and Pakistan - teaching at Hampshire College, writing his weekly column, participating in human rights and peace related efforts, and working towards Khaldunia.

His retirement ceremony at Hampshire College in 1997 drew hundreds. The more impressive thing was the distances people came from, as well as the distinguished intellectuals and activists in attendance.

After that, he spent most of his time in Pakistan, very much part of the struggle against the 'talibanisation' of society, and the use of religion for political purposes. His articles on Jinnah predicted where the country was heading. He articulated the essential link between the rule of law and a country's stability, noting that Jinnah "did not lose sight of this civic principle even in the darkest hours of 1947". He wrote against the infamous Hudood Ordinances of 1977 that criminalise adultery and make rape a private offence in which the victim has to prove her innocence.

In 1998, Eqbal blasted the BJP-led government for its nuclear tests and argued that Pakistan need not follow suit. He was severely disappointed when the Nawaz Sharif government gave in to domestic political pressures and the severe provocation from India, and turned the Chaghi mountains white.

Eqbal was diagnosed with cancer of the colon in May 1999, as both countries geared up to celebrate their nuclear anniversaries. He died just six days later, on the morning of May 11, the anniversary of India's nuclear test.

His legacy lives on, in his writings, and in his memory. The Eqbal Ahmad Foundation set up by his relatives and friends holds an annual distinguished lecture series in Pakistan named for him. Noam Chomsky addressed the series in November 2001, and received standing ovations at each venue. Edward Said was to address the series also but sadly, this could not happen.

The Selected Writings of Eqbal Ahmad Book Launch

The book launch of The Selected Writings of Eqbal Ahmad took place in the nearly full 300-capacity Ames Hall (Harvard Law School). The organizers hadn't put up many posters or done any aggressive inviting, in case of over-crowding, given that Noam Chomsky was one of the speakers and the publicity about Chomsky following Chavez's address to the UN.

The organizer, Jack Trumpbour of The Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School introduced the event, starting with a small clip from the documentary on Eqbal (that Asia Foundation commissioned me for Geo TV; 20 min; broadcast Nov 2004; Urdu). He talked about the concept of Empire as Eqbal defined it, not just physically subjugating other countries as the British colonizers did, but dominating them through other means as America has been doing since the downfall of the British.

David Barsamian of Alternative Radio in Colorado made an audio-recording of the event, which should soon be available on his website and on CDs.

Barsamian's book, Confronting Empire was also the main theme of the Chomsky talk on Eqbal Ahmad's legacy and the contemporary crisis. Always low key, Chomsky juxtaposed valuable information that brought out the irony of the situation. His detractors criticize him for not providing original analysis but he himself has never claimed to do more than put together information that is already available. The mainstream media sidelines this information, and also Chomsky. When they do give him space, it is done disparagingly, and far greater space is given to his detractors.

Chomsky talked about the "international community" -- defined essentially as the US and its allies, Bush's "messianic mission", and the "unusual historic event we are witnessing" today -- the destruction of a nation in Palestine, because the Palestinian people "committed a terrible crime in the last free election: they voted in the wrong people."

The real reason for the Israeli (US-Israeli) aggression, believes Chomsky, is that the Hezbollah provides the only meaningful support for Palestinian rights. Another reason is to eliminate Lebanese deterrents that stand in the way of an attack on Iran.

The aggression has two consequences: first, it deters negotiations, and secondly, it makes the dissidents and reformers within the society more vulnerable, as regimes under attack tend to become harsher. Shirin Ebadi and others testify to this, as can others in such societies (to which I would add the USA, its many freedoms notwithstanding).

A panel immediately following Chomsky's talk was addressed by Stuart Schaar, Eqbal's "college buddy" at Princeton; Margaret Cerullo, his colleague from Hampshire College and one of the book's editors; and me, as a journalist and documentary filmmaker from Pakistan who produced a documentary on Eqbal and knew him as a colleague in the human rights and peace movements. Emran Qureshi of Harvard Law School's Labor & Worklife Program summed up.

Prof. Schaar read extracts from his forthcoming biography of Eqbal (publisher being negotiated) for which he visited Pakistan in 2004, and found "the legacy of a global peacemaker".

Margaret Cerullo talked briefly of the two turning points for Eqbal. One was the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, when the Arab states failed to respond, when he predicted that this "would turn up the heat of Islamic outrage". The second was the Gulf War of 1991, when Iraq was accused of unlawful seizure of land and development of nuclear weapons – charges that can also be laid at Israel's door, but no one has ever suggested invading it.

She talked about his theory of the "logic of counter-insurgency" and his argument that the gap between coercive military occupation and the determination of the occupied would only lead to a spiraling of violence and even genocide - an argument that has been all too well illustrated in present-day Iraq.

I spoke of Eqbal in the Pakistani context, someone who was "just Eqbal" to so many, regardless of differences like age, status and experience. Always courteous, he would listen attentively with genuine curiosity, then ask thought-provoking questions that provided new insight. He extended the same courtesy to those who opposed his progressive, secular world view -- from military dictators to religious extremists.

On Being Human

Forgive me if I respect people who believe in humanity, who don't shrink from lending a helping hand where required, who are more concerned with other people's feelings then their own, who genuinely consider all people to be equal, who can treat those who are different well - more worthy of respect.

Forgive me if I truly do think God thinks so too. Xainab: Winter of My Discontent - Aug 21/2006

The first part I fully endorse. Do have a problem with the last part/sentence

But this calls for an explanation of sorts. My personal (and wacky) believe is He is the Rub ul Aalameen the master of 'worlds' as enunciated in the most read Surah of all - Al Fateha: and having created earth He has lost interest in it and its inhabitants and has moved on to 'other' worlds.

He was/is kind enough to leave his 'instructions' for the inhabitants. So it is up to us to follow those instructions - primarily be a good human being, be a good corporate citizen and continue on the personal and collective path toward evolution.

The first teacher who taught us alphabets - where is s/he? The teacher did her/his job and pushed us in a certain direction.

yeh kya baat hui?

Well, the onus is shifted on to us to manage the affairs - both personal and collective. And, since He has moved away, it is entirely up to us to select and to pursue the right path. If we miss out, the fault is entirely ours.


Since 9/11 Islam is under siege from both sides - from the west for obvious reasons - and from within - the clergy - the mullahs who are using it - rather abusing it for their vested interests.

If my anger is obvious at the mullahs it is no less for ourselves. We who can ostensibly read chose not to. We had shut down any inquiries into the religion we were born into. This results in us becoming a captured audience for the mullahs.

Think of it this way. How difficult could it be to understand al Islam - a religion that came to and was understood by unread bedouins?

Wasn't the central message be good? Be upright, be a good citizen (look after your elders, fellow citizens?) Be a good human being? Instead, we are mired in an incessant pool of dogma and rituals.

The outpouring of western criticism in the aftermath of 9/11 is a welcome sign. Here in T.O. I have seen firsthand a resurgence - specially among the younger generation of Muslims. They have woken up and are at a stage where they are 'asking' questions - challenging the established norms and wisdom of their elders (who had passively bought their faith lock stock and barrel or hadith, shariah and qur'an.)

These younger Muslims are reading and educating themselves into the religion they were accidentally born into: and hopefully in a few generations a more aware and awakened community will come into play (this observation is primarily valid for Greater Toronto Area. And I believe this observations is equally valid for other western cities where desis have settled in numbers.

It is the duty of every able Muslim to read and get to know the religion s/he was born into. Only then we could hope to get out of the clutches of the jaahil mulla. Only then we can hope to march to the progressive and egalitarian path shown us - with tolerance and goodwill for others inhabiting this planet.

Failure is not an option.


i want to introduce yasmin and her blog to my friends. she lives in cairo, egypt and is doing masters after a laspe in studies, is very thoughtful, and has interesting ideas. you will find the link to her blog here and on the right margins "bannos".

wrote a longish reply to her letter (which follows)...and she wrote back another long reply (which also follows)

then i had second thoughts and mailed her this postscript today:

putting all of what i wrote yesterday on my blog does not appear a good idea on second thoughts...hmmmmm...let me find another way of introducing you on my blog?

to this she sent this reply:

smiles, whatever makes you comfortable

on third thoughts maybe you would like to think about a joint blog of discussion, discussion points, thoughts, small things or so, maybe open for comments? or something? a small step towards a collective ijtihad perhaps?


well, this is what i will do. i will post my reply, her reply and then those interested can add their comments in the reply. (the replies are moderated to keep away the non-serious interactors.)


september 27, 2006

my comments on the use of salutation was not a dictate - just a personal whim - you are free to exercise you choice:)

i would be more careful with the use of urdu-hindi in the correspondence... and re: blaming it all on beady...hmmm...not fair...i will own up to my faux pas...and there are plenty of them...ask M!...

chuckled at this: " I am about ready to convert to worshipping any god of fire who would agree to put them in a pile and burn them all..."

just remembered your Bannos and started browsing...i liked this from your first blog entry:

Reform does not necessarily mean a change towards something unknown and unfamiliar and therefore to be rejected. In Islam's case it should be a change back to its roots and foundations. It means going back to Islam the way it was meant to be, before it was hijacked by politics, personal gains and power struggles. A true reform should do away with all the additions that were artificially introduced into it and which were not part of the original. It also needs to re-adopt the elements that drowned in all the different interpretations and re-interpretations yet again and again. Once we eliminate the superfluous additions we can then expose its original glory again.

am with you in principle...(o o ...he is going to sneak in some disagreement)...not really - as we exchange thoughts...perhaps you will understand better where i stand...

am not a good muslim...if good muslim means following the merely striving to become a better insaan (a better human being) and if i achieve that...or even if i pursue that path diligently...i believe i will come out ahead in the end....can i share these thoughts with a literalist?...bang bang!...

also i nod in agreement..."Once we eliminate the superfluous additions we can then expose its original glory again." and please pardon me as we have not read each other well enough and are just trying to get to know...but feel i can share my thoughts with you without being thrown in a dungeon?...theek hay...we are muslims and we should strive for that (glory bit)...but then my Allah is everybody's Allah too...why must i be so possessive in this interpretation?

yes, surely you are talking about islam and muslims!...but He is everyone's Lord and in a sense we all belong to him (not muslims alone) is this sense of 'monopolization' that bothers me sometime...khair...please continue your work and ignore these rants

(and also, let me continue)

focus on " glory" - what does it mean to you? - social justice, egalitarian equality, rights,....but above all...and this is my interpretation...muhammed (saw) directed a light - a torch to a path...if muslims had followed that path for the last 1500+ years they would have evolved...evolved to perhaps better human beings, better compatriots then those simple arabs of his time and environment

the risk of aiming for that glory is inherent...(baby back into the womb)...of course it can be argued that to fix the present mess we have to look backward and start correcting from where we weaned off that right path...arrrghhh!...then where is THAT path?...

is there another way?...perhaps...what if we individually and collectively start the process of fixing the wrongs from this moment onward? are familiar and have touched upon qiyaas, ijma, ijtihaad in one of your is done individually...can it be done collectively?

(meanwhile have been browsing through your thoughtful and wonderful blog...and i will add a link to my blog...and perhaps add this there too...will see)

in one entry you say:

Although the world today tends to view Islam in terms of schools and creeds, I believe that there is a much more fundamental conflict. It is between those who cling to the literal letter without applying their minds and compassion and those who stress inner values, the understated Islamic ones, now almost forgotten in the changing world of Islam. I do hope that we go back to the word of Allah and apply it using our hearts and try to fight all those different forms of discrimination."

you said it in fewer words what i was rambling about today...

re: your thesis - in brief...ours is less of a thinking persons world!...but if asrani can manji can spouse half baked thoughts and the gullible buy them sure your more thoughtful and learned thoughts would be more welcome

i found the goethe poem you is wonderful and a hermeneutical sense are we not from Him and to Him we return?...and in a larger sense part of the same clay and spirit?...

in 1815 goethe wrote Gingko Biloba:

This leaf from a tree in the East,
Has been given to my garden.
It reveals a certain secret,
Which pleases me and thoughtful people.

Does it represent One living creature
Which has divided itself?
Or are these Two, which have decided,
That they should be as One?

To reply to such a Question,
I found the right answer:
Do you notice in my songs and verses
That I am One and Two?

there are many layers to individuals...some we peel crying (like an
onion) other we shed with growth

"...and my five pillars are uhmmm not really derelict, but not uhmmm very well maintained either, I have an aversion to empty rituals and I would rather do my own thing in my own time from my heart, call me in transition of sorts or rather on a journey, I mean I know what I am, it's just that I currently have a few issues and once they are sorted, I will know more."

will you? is it ever possible? recall what was inscribed in golden letters at the entrance to apollos' temple at delphi?...gnothi seuoton...two words for a life long pursuit in vain an individual sense 'go forth and delude' applies more to the homo sapiens we see around

yes, happy ramadaan to you too



ps: am thinking of putting this on my blog with your permission...and if there is something that needs be can advise about it too


(and her reply)
september 28, 2006

temp :)

laughs, when you get to know me better you will know that I tend to joke quite a bit and that I never follow orders, not even when I should, grins, hence the lack of maintenance on my pillars, grins, just ask beady, he will most probably moan to you about all his grey hair being due to me and my being contrary!

But hey, I was serious about burning those books, I have about 3 - 4 thousand books to my name, nicely arranged on shelves in alphabetical order and subdivided into different genres, sad isnt it? I have never thrown a book away and I treat them like they were my kids, but some of the stuff I am forced to read now just makes me feel sick (rather than saying dumb!). Those ahem "revered" fuqaha-ists must have had too much time on their hands, writing 80 pages to arrive at an obvious conclusion after going, right, left, right again, left again, right again etc etc just makes one wonder about the big issues. No wonder we are sort of stuck in medieval times and kind of fail to see the big issues let alone address them.

I was collecting fatwas for a few months, just to see what the muslims think most about these days and ask about and I couldnt help shake my head, it seems the entire ummah is very concerned about women plucking their eyebrows and whether or not football is halal or keeping statues at home, leave aside issues such as violence and destroying useful assets thereby harming the common maslaha (consideration pf public interest) or even istihsan (equity).

I dont agree with you saying you're not a good muslim, I think that striving to become a better insaan is as good as it gets, because in my point of view that's what jihad is all about, and also what islam is all about, the concept of social justice which permeates most of the rulings and is the foundation for most of the do's and dont's, never mind the literalists, they dont see the wood from the trees.

And you are right, Allah is for everyone, for muslims as much as for the christians and the jews and even the non-believers, he is one, one for all, even for those who refuse him, and I dont think he would want to be shoved down someone's throat in any way.

Glory for me is not all those achievements that can be measured in material terms, not the kilometers of lands conquered and not the endless miles covered in geographical mappings, nor tons of books produced and foundations laid for science, medicine or algebra even, or equipments such as this weird astrolab or whatever it is called for navigating the seas, all that was great and indeed the golden age of islam as it is still called in history books and cried about by most muslims instead of thinking about how to have an aluminum age again at least, but for me glory means something else, more along the lines of the abstract terms, little things that go a much longer way, like al farooq Umar for example, refusing to practice hudood when there was a famine and insisting his hand be cut if any because he failed to feed his people and made them needy to steal, like Ali threatening to flog one of the sahaba for slandering another one of them and accusing him of drinking in his own house in secret and thereby upholding the right of privacy and hanging on to one's reputation, like abu bakr spending his fortune buying slaves to free them, or again Umar ruling that Amr Ibn al Aas should be punished for letting his son hit a copt in Egypt thereby going against the rules of protecting a minority (ahl al dhimma) or even Saladin sending his own physician to tend to his enemy. this for me is glory, justice, freedom, equality, equity, contentment and security, compassion, ihsan and even democracy, as far as I am concerned, and most of all thinking and applying one's mind and heart too, achieving understanding and compassion at the same time, living the words of the book not just reading them, and setting examples through "quranic/islamic" behaviour, if I may call it that, where does one find this now in the Muslim world? corruption where you look, discrimination where you go and apathy and real jahl, worse than jahilija itself.

You are right that we were shown a path, but then at some point we have started going in circles and cant seem to get off and out of it in any direction at all, not forward and not even backward. I am trying to write something which hit me in my last fiqh class when the prof was discussing the stages of muslim thought regarding fiqh and the methodology adopted. chuckles, I think that will make a lot of people feel like strangling me.

I think there are individual steps towards some ijtihad, the problem is that those voices are not really heard and that even when they are heard they are fought and drowned, it's some other voices that need to be drowned out, not by silencing them but rather by exposing their hidden agendas and deceptions. I wonder what's with these women, Ayan Hirsi Ali, Wafaa Sultan, Irshad Manji, Asra Nomani etc etc, what on earth possesses them to claim knowledge and leadership when it's built on nothing much. I guess the appeal to be saying what others want to hear in exchange for their 5 - 15 minutes of fame, but then I am not God and I wouldnt be presumptuous to say I know their niyyat and intention. Perhaps it is for a good cause, fighting injustice too, but then one doesnt fight it with another injustice, of slandering a religion for the mistakes of some misguided followers or mixing up traditions with religion, that has to be wrong. On the other hand one cant really fight for something one knows so little about, laughs, which is the reason of my temporary insanity and decision of starting a master's in my age. But I am also sick and tired of the apologetic tone Muslims have started to use when talking/writing about their religion. It shouldnt need any defence, it didnt do anything wrong. It has never changed. The idiotic followers have, and those need to be doing their own apologising!

I would love a collective ijtihad arriving at some sort of ijma to become better or a collective better ummah, but I am realistic enough to know how impossible a dream that is, first we have to accept one another and our own differences within, shia, sunni, ahmadi, shafie, hanbali, malkis, zaydani, ismaili, hanafi, agha khani, qaydani, bahai, wahabi, etc etc etc, and accept the others too, and then perhaps we can start thinking and working collectively, till then we will always be our own worst enemies. Before thinking about a dialogue with other faiths we should be thinking about a dialogue within, look at all this sectarian violence killing hundreds and thousands all over the place, is that a sign for possible collective thinking? sighs

I am very flattered you took to the time to read my pieces and I would be honoured if you find them worthy to link to.

Yes, that's the Goethe poem. It has become my favourite when I was 17 and going through a crisis of identity, not knowing what I was or where I belonged, more with my oriental father and his culture or my european mother and hers, and it gave me the answer, I am all of that and more and whatever I chose to be and become.

Maybe you are right and I will never know if I have reached the end of my journey or not, but I am having fun while I am on my way and even if I only end up knowing that I still dont know enough or even next to nothing (thanks to socrates) I will still have enjoyed the getting there and all what I collected on the way.

Some people say that all religions are delusions, but I think they also are a great comfort, when one can have a supreme being who controls everything then one can always unload the blame for anything in his/her lap, the praise one seldom remembers to send elsewhere.

And by all means, feel free to put anything anywhere, I think I am confident enough to stand by what I say, so there is nothing that needs to be removed or hidden away ... my parents taught me that if there is something I would be ashamed to show in public then I shouldnt be doing or saying it in the first place.

I have a tendency to ramble and to talk too much, so forgive me

bspnd to you too (I like that :) so I will use it with your ijazat ;))

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

demand / taqaaza

the Shaikh and the Counsellor
were there when they celebrated
in the streets and squares
death of the desert wanderer

from merchants of religion
for ever had he pleaded,
please return all my thoughts
enough! enough from now
shall strive and die by my thoughts

this demand turned friends to foes
street pebbles, and stones
touched his body in many ways

as the intifadah grew
stones befriended his body
and that rapport caused his death

naaseh bhi thaa wahaN shaikh bhi
jash'n manaya her basti nay
oos ki maut pay laikin yaaro
kehta tha jo peeran-e-haq say
lill-lah, loutaa dou afkaar m'ray
ab oonhi kay saharay
jiyouN ga maiN ya marouN gaa

taqaazaa e wapsi e afkaar pay dost
sub bun ga'aye dushman ooskay
aur pathar gali kouchay kay
sha'na'saa banay, dost hu'aye

sung-bari youN baRhti rahi
aur sung dosti fart-e-shauq say
a'jul say ker gaee humkinar oosay

unending delusions / faraib e moo'salsal

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unending delusions
lost count of setbacks, truth
--elusory, illusory
phoenician paradise
promises of those houris

mirages of amber hell
those familiar faces
from the diffusion of past
with whom we shared visions

and this enigmatic world
where religion's bogeyman
strangle thoughts and spirits

lost count...........

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faraib e mooísalsal
un-ginn't faraib kha'aye
ik goom gushtaa such
ki joos'tu'joo maiN

faraib e jannat
waa'da hoorON kaa
jo naa houN shaaíyad
toojh say haseeN ter

saraab e do'zakh aur
sadiyouN say woh
ma'noos chehray
saath jin kay hum nay
lafzON kay maa'ni
youN daryaft ki'aye

aur yeh duniya
peer e tasmaa paa
mazhab kay jahaaN
sawaar rehtay haiN
gurden o afkaar pay

janay kitnay .......

Sunday, October 01, 2006

la ila ha

the first part of the kalima
'there is no God'...outside of us
within us He/She lives and fades
more times than can be recorded
this god when the throbbing ceases
with soul s/he deserts the body

don't ask about the Other One
am told S/He is preoccupied

souchta hooN aksar

souchta hooN aksar gar jal bhee ga'aye
kagaz per raq'm yeh chund laf'z tou kya
qayamat aa'ayegi

sadiyouN say humnay ki hay bay wa'fai
dil saada, dimagh ish'q say mubar'ra
jub inkisari ka paas na raha tou
raakh aalooda laf'z per ashkbari kaisi?

jub bhula dia ghairat ko tou na
banay insaaN, na aadmi na haiwaaN
phir yeh fasoord'gi aur malaal kaisa?

eyes / aankhaiN

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scintillating eyes
acuminous, unblinking,
pulsating, focused

the only curiosity alive
- when the body loses vision
what'll these eyes see

while pundits debate sages
long after we're gone
these probing eyes will
continue their search
will only pursue you
in after-after

kya kiji'aye in aankhouN ka
tiktiki baaNdhay her sheh ko
takti rehti haiN her soo

tajoos'soos reh gaya jo ab
tou srif is baat ka aye humdum
jub yeh palkaiN bund ho ja'ayeNgi
khaak hOgi hum aaghosh khaak say
laikin yeh matlaashi aankhaiN m'ri
phir bhi tujhay dhoondaiN gi
phir bhi tujhay hee dhoondaiN gi