Guest Writer

Ali Dayan Hasan: The Wrong Kind of Pakistani

21 April 2014

By Ali Dayan Hasan

I

On March 28 in Lahore, my friend of almost thirty years, Raza Rumi, journalist and much else, survived an attempted “targeted killing.” Miraculously, he emerged unscathed from the hail of gunfire intended for him. Raza is now in a secure location—outside Pakistan. He had no choice but to leave as the authorities felt no embarrassment in letting him know that they could not guarantee his life if he stepped outside his Lahore home. Some weeks later, the police “caught” the would-be-assassins who belong to the dreaded Taliban-affiliate Lahkar-e-Jhangvi. But police custody curtails neither the power of these terrorists nor the impunity with which they kill. The fact is that nobody can do anything to stop them and nobody will. Tens of thousands of our fellow citizens have already been killed by the same terrorists. On April 19, Hamid Mir, another journalist, was shot in broad daylight and survived. He too will live. But his attackers too, even if identified, will escape accountability.

I should just be grateful that my friend Raza is alive. I was. I am.

But then, to come to terms with my relief, I engaged in an act of self-destructive rebellion—foolhardy, irresponsible and potentially fatal. I went for a long drive through the streets of Lahore, alone. As people often do. As I did often until “security-related restricted movement” became an embarrassing part of my life. As Raza could have possibly, until recently, when the price of life became self-imposed house arrest or exile for him. (more…)

Remembering Parveen Shakir

26 December 2010
Naveed Abbas has contributed this beautiful tribute to a great poetess Parveen Shakir who died 16 years ago. Please check her poems and their translations here and here

With a tearful eye and a aggrieved heart one is reminded of the sad fact; sixteen years have passed since Parveen had left this world for her eternal abode, the world of art and culture has missed this poetic genious immensely. The globally renowned literary ambassador is one of the rarest assets of Pakistan.
A glowing tribute to Parveen Shakir!

What is this life one really wonders?
The inexorable fate snatches what we cherish the most
The dismal heart is aching with dirge
In remembrance of great Parveen Shakir
The glittering diamond among stones
The cynosure of all eyes remembered with fertive sighs
Her name will be written with ‘everlasting ink’ on the pages of eternity

May her soul rest in peace!

On Nietzsche

27 February 2010

I am happy to publish this guest post sent from New Zealand.. (RR)

“Let us honour if we can, the vertical man,

Though we value none but the horizontal one.” – Auden

“Be sorry for the extraordinary man that he had to live in such miserable age that he had to exert himself polemically all the times.”- Goethe

Nietzsche went hopelessly insane at the age of forty five in January 1889 and died as such eleven years later on 25th August 1900 in Weimer. Ironically the king Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, on whose birthday Nietzsche was born and christened after him, became mad a few years later and so did Nietzsche’s father. Yet this man, Nietzsche, has inspired the greatest minds of twentieth century more than any other thinkers of recent times. Thomas Mann, Herman Hess, Rilke, Andre Gide, Sartre, Camus, G.B.Shaw,  W.B.Yeats,O’Neil, Martin Bubber and Freud have all acknowledged their debts to the inspirational vision of Nietzsche. In Mohammad Iqbal’s poetry one can clearly realize the strong influence of Nietzsche’s philosophy before Iqbal’s lapse into politico-religious whirlpool.

Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Rocker, in the Prussian province of Saxony, on 15th October,1844. His father Ludwig Nietzsche was a Lutheran minister. (more…)

The closed minds that deny a civilisation’s glories – where I was quoted

15 February 2010

I was most pleased to read this piece by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown entitled The closed minds that deny a civilisation’s glories. I would like to thank Yasmin Alibhai, whom I have always respected for her integrity and courage, to have quoted a few hurried lines posted by me in response to tge butchery perpeterated by the extremists in Pakistan and elsewhere:

Muslims are seeing Koranic injunctions where none exist
Confused Dad Mohamed from somewhere in the US sends his dilemma to an Islamic guidance website through whom Allah apparently communicates his orders – on how we dress, what we do minute by minute, unholy TV programmes, wicked vitamins and even wickeder relations between males and females.
I paraphrase Mohamed’s frantic appeal for clarity. His children watch cartoons, and have stuffed toys, quilts and pillow cases with Mickey Mouse on them. Is all that halal? Now many of us detest the addictive and manipulative Disney brand which targets young children. But this fully grown, procreative adult cannot trust his own mind and seeks instructions from unverified voices of authority. How abject is that?
These global sites control people, push through Maoist “cleansing”. Miserable mullahs are closing down the Muslim mind and heart the world over. Meanwhile “true believers” desperately seek enslavement and thank their enslavers. The questions posed are startling in their naiveté. May we sing? Is it OK for a man to listen to a woman singer? Do I watch a female newsreader? Yes, says a wise one – as long as she is properly covered up and not wearing perfume. Don’t laugh. It is tragic, not funny.
Somehow in the last decade or so, millions of believers have been persuaded that they are repositories of sin because they watch films, love music and paintings, read books, experience temporal pleasures and ecstasies. Remember the ferocity with which the Taliban destroyed all pre-Islamic treasures? Saudi Arabia is guilty of similar vandalism. Thus they seek to recreate the piety of triumphant Islam. Well they didn’t have cameras, mobile phones, cars and computers then. Should these be banned too?
Muslim children are now programmed to obey – robbed of imagination, independent thought and refinement. UK Muslim parents are increasingly coming out against school visits, music and drama, novels, exercise, scientific facts. Teachers know these parental demands leave Muslim children under-educated and emotionally numbed, rendered unresponsive to artistic words, sights and sounds.
This is a travesty of our history, our love of truth and beauty, the intellectual energy that throughout history uplifted Muslim civilisations. The current Science Museum exhibition of Muslim inventions that shaped the modern world proves we were never the barbarians promoted in Western demonology. Some of the earliest manuals on surgery and optics, astronomy and flying machines came out of Muslim regions. And those same places were creative hubs producing great works of art, incredible buildings and intricate crafts.
There is no Koranic injunction against the depiction of the human form, yet pictures from previous ages would today not be painted – a kneeling, sensual angel by an Ottoman artist in the mid-16th century, a man filling his cup of wine. Passion plays were performed through the centuries in all main Arabian conurbations. Poetry was written and recited by both men and women. Music, devotional and romantic, was in every household. All that is under threat today.
The Pakistani blogger Raza Rumi writes: “Who are these butchers of culture? What religion do they follow? They have no religion except barbarism.” Exactly. British Muslims for Secular Democracy (of which I am chair), supported by the British Council, is tomorrow organising a conference on artistic and cultural freedom at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Speakers include Miss Pakistan (who is also a professor), fashion designers, the entrepreneur Saira Khan, painters, stand-up comics, musicians, writers, others who are concerned. The event is open to all. Check the BMSD site. We will be launching an advisory guide for teachers on protecting the interests of the Muslim child. (more…)

URS TODAY-Hazrat Baha-ud-din Zakariya (RA) Multan

21 January 2010

Iftikhar Chaudri’s excellent note on the great saint:
Hazrat Baha-ud-din Zakariya(RA) was a Sufi of Suhrawardiyya order (tariqa). His full name was Al-Sheikh Al-Kabir Sheikh-ul-Islam Baha-ud-Din Abu Muhammad Zakaria Al-Qureshi Al-Asadi Al Hashmi. Sheikh Baha-ud-Din Zakariya known as Bahawal Haq was born at Kot Kehror, a town of Layyah District near Multan, Punjab, Pakistan, around 1170.

His grand father Hazrat Shah Kamaluddin Ali Shah Qureshi al Hashmi arrived Multan from Makkah en route to Khwarizm where he stayed for a short while.In Tariqat he was the disciple of Renowned Sufi Master Shaikh Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi who awarded him Khilafat only after 17 days of stay at his Khanqaah in Baghdaad. (more…)

Sub-Continent’s Berlin Wall

22 November 2009

I am posting Shivani Mohan’s article where I have been quoted with reference to the recent folklore festival held under the aegis of SAARC. Another piece on the folk performances can be accessed here.

This fortnight saw the 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. So liberating and decisive, when a vast multitude of people chose to see sense and forget trifles that generally incense mankind, when the similarities between two peoples became more important than the differences; when cultural affinity conquered meaningless rivalry.

So it was at the recently concluded SAARC Folklore Festival. Writers, scholars and folklore artistes from eight SAARC countries — Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan- converged to Chandigarh for four days full of rapturous singing and dancing and ?discussing folklore. (more…)

New book: Wanted—Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family

8 May 2009

Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand

Muslim family laws have for long been—and continue to be—a hugely controversial subject. Critics contend that these laws seriously militate against basic human rights, especially of women. On the other hand, conservative ulema and Islamist ideologues hail these laws as the epitome of divine justice and refuse to consider any changes therein. (more…)

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