Friday, September 11, 2009

Ramadan - Time For Reflection

If you happen to passby or live in a muslim country you will notice that this month is a special month for muslims of the world when majority if not all fast from sunrise till sunset and have special prayers during the days. The last 10 days are specially important because the prayers in the night on these days is more than prayers for a 1000 nights.

Not eating is a way of controlling your urges whatever they maybe, physical, mental etc and a lesson on being humble and creating ability to compose oneself. To help its people government’s of most countries do not allow food to be served openly till the sunset.

I remember my time in Karachi during Ramadan… it was always special and a lot of things that I remember while may not be as per the spirit of the month but still remain quite distinctly related to the time. Muslims are asked to control their anger and it is the last thing they are able to control… from my father losing his temper at the end of the month to anyone of the road and bus you can be amused by the shear number of fights that take place. I specially remember one incident when I was travelling to work in a crowded bus (which is not a good experience in anytime of the year) and someone addicted to Paan could smell a person holding paan in his mouth….. I guess our senses do awaken in time of hunger… the person with the paan was obviously not fasting and the other person on the smell of it either got jealous or was low on energy picked a fight. While standing I wondered since that guy was not overtly eating paan and had it securely hidden in his mouth with no chewing why would this guy be penalized by us? Isn’t it all about controlling your urges? Other than this the one thing different is the cuisine. All countries have developed a different set of cuisine for breaking the fast as it is a festive occasion and what is most amazing is that probably only time of the year we tend to have some balance in the meal though I would avoid the use of oil but then most of the muslim cuisine are cooked in liberal oil content. We have a lot of vegetables and fruits and during this time to a certain extent I have noticed meat intake declines. This must have some historical significance when our forefathers taught us what is right meal and we over the years just played havoc with it.

There is a lot of critical talk about muslim way of slaughtering the animal… everyone has come up with their own logic and my own logic which I feel comfortable with is something I don’t find a lot of people being comfortable with. To me the reason for slaughtering the animal are two, it is an extremely painful experience so a person doing this will avoid repeating it over and over and then there is obviously the health aspect to it. To muslims we can only eat food that has been slaughtered in the name of Allah and preferably done by the persons own hand in front of his eyes. We have started flouting this rule by employing a person able to say Allah Ho Akbar and slaughter thousands in a day. I guess this is how our cuisine evolved also. We had less meat and more grains and vegetables in it which kept us healthy. German’s have their beerfest and unfortunate muslims have their meatfest and any festive occasion is gross show of various meat dishes piled against each other with vegetable hardly in sight as if they have just been released from prison where no meat was served. Now we are in the wild rush to copy our fair skinned brothers of the west in everything while they are doing what we did… they say eat vegetables… lentils are now health food, meat content is reducing we on the other hand are now exceeding average meat intake of Chenghez Khan’s army.

We are in the last 10 days of Ramadan and it might be a good time for us to reflect back and see how we actually left the ideals of being fair to everyone from the mother earth to every living thing on this planet and how we can return and help bring sanity to this ravaged 3rd rock from the sun. ...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The City Falls Into Darkness

Two weeks ago the city of Sharjah fell into darkness. 80% of the city had no electricity for hours. Soon after the cracks within the system appeared and it looks that either lack of maintenance or lack of supply resulted in this overload and trip. Since then the whole of city's industrial area plunges into darkness at night. With the temperatures soaring beyond 40C in the day and settling to humid 30C - 32C at night people are having an uncomfortable days till the soaring summer heat begins to subside later this month.

While everyone in the city is complaining one thing that I still fail to understand is why does the business go on as usual till late at night. Cant businesses close for the day at sunset so it can provide the much needed relief to the system and people can have electricity in their houses. Why is their a need for miles and miles of lit roads. It seems humans have mastered the act of complaining and are adamant to change demanding all but not ready to give anything in return.

This leads me to the pertinent question of our times..... Climate Change. The intense human greed and quest to have all the material wealth has led us to strains in only habitable planet and with obvious signs of distress just like not turning off an extra light in our houses we aren't ready to reduce our demands for even greater and bigger things.

While alot has to be done to regulate collective reaction of mankind on the issue we eventually have to realize individual leadership on the issue. If we can control ourselves in small things collectively the step will lead to great good.

In G20 the leaders who represent us the 3rd world have been bickering over who should do what... again a typical blame game. Instead of fighting if we can capture the advantage the 3rd world for the first time can lead rather than being led by the West.

We are on the road to Copenhagen.... how our leaders will react to it will largely depend on the way we would be embracing the problems at hand. It seems mankind has learnt one thing from the animal kingdom.... to deny reality we bury our heads in the sand....

We have a choice... keep our eyes closed or stand up and snatch the opportunity....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Religious Ignorance

I had an opportunity to follow a very lively debate about a Pakistani woman being forced into prostitution due to the financial situation of the girl. Since she was educated to the secondary school she rose through the ranks and became a dealer providing girls to brothels in Lahore.... during the debate some members kept argued lack of Islamic teaching to blame to the argument of an elderly gentleman arguing of declining common decency amongst us. The gentleman with the religious card wanted to show as if Islam is the only religion highlighting such moral values while others dont. I wonder which other religion in the world would condone the events that led to that woman becoming a sex worker. So reckon it was about society being devoid of human dignity that led to the person's misfortunes and nothing else. Moral degradation is rampant unfortunate is the minorities are singled out by one eyed people and mullahs. It is an irony we have become so intolerant and disrespectful of others.

It also reminded me of my life during the Zia ulhaq reign and how we were led to believe that it is our religious duty to wipe the world of infidels... the definition of which I have started questioning.

The point is we in Pakistan are so lost as to what the world is that despite being morally bankrupt we believe we are the best.... it takes me back to the muslims of India in general... We lost everything in 1857 when last mughal emperor was sort of unceremoniously evicted from his palace in what we can in current terms call a coup and then we were led into a live of oblivion by obscurantist of that time... branding every forward looking person as a Kafir... leading to what we are today but, when it came to discussing greatness we only had the relics of yester years to show nothing of present time to back it up. This mindset of grandeur still exist amongst us.

Pakistanis are led to believe in a dream that doesnt exist and that the dream of greatness of a nation... we are hardly a single nation what to talk about great...

The point is our media, our education system all have to actually reflect the open mindedness of muslims that rose them to power... Respecting others and not making a statement about how great a muslim we are in every other sentence and not in action.

In my view we have to live it rather than speak it.

Last month I was in Netherlands... the most liberal of liberal countries on earth known for its coffee shops and sex business. I was fortunate to see the other side of it.. I went to what is the bible belt of holland with people living by what they feel is the truth.... being there reminded me of prophet's saying... "Cleanliness is half religion" and when I saw the town and compared it with ours.. I had to question our standing.

If we list down all the traits of "A Good Muslim" run it across the board and then run it counter with "The Infidels Of The West" i wonder where we will stand....