Muslims in 21st Century India

Delhi Jama Masjid

Photo Credit: Reuters

India, as we all know, is a land of various cultures, languages, religions & beliefs. This very distinct feature of being a diverse nation further solidifies the ‘Secularist’ facade of the Constitution of India. The fundamental right of an Indian citizen to practice his/her religion, without external influence per se, aims to leverage the coexistence of different communities that the country proudly accommodates.

The outpour here is a feeble attempt to substantiate the view of secularism indoctrinated in the Indian Constitution.  If I analyze the situation of Muslims in today’s India, the brush would only paint a gory picture. Thanks to the intrusion of those nationalists cum ruffians, who leave no stone unturned to disturb the serenity & harmony of our country. Aftermath of this all – it has virtually become a sin to be a Muslim in India. In these times, almost every aspect of a Muslim’s life is under strict surveillance. With the ever proliferating Saffronism & downtrending GDP, the motherly sympathies are only for Muslims in terms of what they eat, what they wear, how they worship, how or who they marry & even how they get divorced! In my view, the condition deteriorated only after the ruling authority, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), came into power in 2014. It catalyzed the efforts to promote their ideology of ‘Hindutva’, along with the support of other political parties like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) & the Shiv Sena.

I have lost count of how many innocent people have been butchered in the guise of beef-eating in innumerable instances of lynching across the country. On the other hand, when it comes to the choice of cloths, a Muslim women wearing a Burqa, which is the outer garment worn by women in public, is seen as an oppressed female soliciting affection from the outer world. The so called feminists conveniently ignore the fact that covering the body by a Burqa is no oppression, rather it is adorned to protect oneself from a number of social evils.

To talk about other barriers to practicing religion in greater detail, I would clawback to the recently concluded festive season of Eidul Adha. The Islamic practice of sacrificing certain animals was questioned yet again & debated about 24×7 on news channels. I find it utterly illogical that how can a sacred ritual, which aims to feed the poor, be a matter of concern to some. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD), India is the third-biggest beef exporter in the world & would likely hang onto this position through the next decade. It would be interesting to note that the beef exporters in the country are predominantly non-Muslims. Above all this, hundreds of thousands of animals are killed by leading restaurant chains around the world throughout the year, but the ruckus is only when Muslims sacrifice, that too for a generous cause.

These issues are actually leading to an increase in religious intolerance among masses & paving a way for anti-Islamic fanaticism. If Muslims continue to be targeted in this fashion, the Constitutional setup of a ‘Secular State’ would be crushed & rendered as a mere literary adornment.

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The appalling holocaust of Peshawar

A student prays at a private school in Chennai. (Source: PTI)

A student prays at a private school in Chennai, India. (Source: PTI)

Lead, they say, is the toughest part of writing. Never thought I would be so spoiled for choice to begin with, at such a saddening juncture. There is a sea of emotions, plenty to express, humongous grief within & a perpetual disgust ever since the incident occurred.

Who could have thought that a normal day at school, on the 16th Of December, 2014, would turn out to be a such a fatal one for the children & staff of Army Public School (APS), Peshawar & of course for Pakistan itself. Seven heavily armed attackers of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan caused the havoc in the Army-run school & took the lives of almost 142 students & school officials. Accounts of the eye witnesses, who fortunately escaped death,  explain how dastardly the attack was.

Sitwat Jafri, a 12th Grade student, lost his mother who was a teacher at APS. His younger brother, Baqer Jafri, was shot in the head but thankfully survived. Another teacher, Sofia Amjad, who was married to a lawyer, lost her battle with life before she could have made the dream of marrying off her daughters a reality. During the attack, some students pretended to be dead & later described the trauma to the world. There are numerous other stories that have surfaced thereafter, which have truly shaken us. Many countries including India, Saudi Arabia, Canada and United Kingdom have shown support & stood by Pakistan. India, in particular, has responded very positively to Pakistan, forgetting their differences & uniting at this crucial point. The #IndiawithPakistan was trending on twitter & the incident drew extensive support from the Indian base of Twitter users. Many schools, all over India, observed a two-minute silence to remember & pray for the departed souls. But, sadly among all these humanitarian gestures, there were still some insensible Politicians of our country, who took advantage of the situation to target Pakistan on grounds of historical differences & proliferating terrorism through their futile comments.

The Peshawar episode has raised questions about the security of schools in the minds of the young ones too. As reported in India Times, a leading Indian newspaper, a parent, Richa Sharma, found herself striving to answer the query of her six-year-old daughter when asked “Mummy, we don’t even have benches in our school. Only chairs. Where will we hide?” The same report also highlights, another Class 2 student, Kavya’s fear when she innocently asks her mother “How far is Peshawar from her school?” and “If all the bad people have been killed.”

Let us not forget those parents, who have lost the wealth of their life in this heinous act. That limitless pain, that feeling of never being able to see their child again & the resulting agony has left them utterly inconsolable. No other blessing in the world would perhaps commensurate the loss. Not an eye would be void of tears on the very thought of their excruciation. Let me also make it clear here that those who have carried out this inhuman act in the guise of Islam, had no right to do so. It would be like adulterating the ever so pristine religion to serve the nefarious intentions of a few ruthless beings.

Lastly, post Peshawar tragedy, both the countries of the sub-continent would remember 16th December as one of the worst days in their history. While Pakistan is lamenting this attack in Peshawar, India has also not been able to come to terms with the Delhi gang rape case that jolted the countrymen a couple of years back.

We wholeheartedly pray that may peace prevail on either side of the border & citizens of both the countries stay safe eternally.

 

Eve-teasing on the rise in Kingdom

Dhahran harassment case

Time & time again, I have been persuaded by the Kingdom’s perturbing cases of eve-teasing. A video posted on YouTube last October, showing a group of women being harassed by a few eve-teasers in a parking lot outside a mall, sparked outrage in the media. When the incident surfaced among masses, both the harasser & the harassed were targeted by the public. While the former was accused of utterly unethical & immoral behavior, the latter was criticized to have let that happen due to the absence of a male guardian. As per the official report, Saudi Arabia had registered around 3,000 reported cases of harassment in 2013, where Riyadh topped the list with almost 650 cases, followed by Jeddah & Eastern Province. Those which go unnoticed or unreported may actually be much more than the total figure itself.

The debate drags in a host of other issues, which are said to have contributed for the proliferation of this social evil. There can be many reasons for such incidents. It could sometimes be because of a shopaholic or businesswomen travelling with unknown drivers, ignorance of people about the teachings of religion, demand for freedom of women in the guise of human rights, or more importantly a hooligan on the street searching for a prey! I think the most conducive & threatening of them all are the ones that highlight lone women travelers & uncultured youth, be it because of a force majeure or just to play a vagabond. Despite the fact that women can’t drive in Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t necessitate them to be driven around without an actual need. I too am partially of the opinion that women should be allowed to drive, but the more important question that pops up is ‘To end a single problem, should a solution such be devised that gives rise to many other problems?’. The answer would certainly be ‘No’.

If women take to the roads, they would attract unwanted attention of other drivers. I say this merely because the country’s populace is not yet mature enough to see women on the driving seats. To detail a bit about harassment cases here, I would exemplify by mentioning about a sting operation conducted by a chivalrous media personality from Saudi Arabia, Sameera Aziz. The Saudi-journalist through her investigation brought to light the voyeuristic nature of many, if not all, taxi drivers here. She exposed a cab driver accompanied by a fellow journalist in a car behind. Aziz, during the journey, was ogled at, asked personal & utterly irrelevant questions & later accused of having a bad character. This is just one among hundreds of cases of harassment.

One of my primary concerns to write about such a pervasive stigma is to bring about the third perspective associated with all such cases. I in no way intend to target the female of the species, but am just putting the ponder into words. I often observe an unpleasant sight where the both the involved parties indulge in the drama. It is usually said that men tend to start, but it is not always the case. I strongly believe that women need to act responsibly & understand the importance of a virtuous demeanor. Being skimpily dressed, wearing strong perfumes, ostentatious makeup, etc. all contribute to an uncalled for behavior on part of women. Should this & associated activities be controlled, it will definitely bring down the occurrences of harassment.

Till then, we can just pray to the Almighty to protect & guide us all!

First cheque in your name, worth Rs. 1 crore

Feroz Fatma & Amitabh Bachchan

Indubitably, the tittle stands for itself, while the 22 year old, Firoz Fatma, made the fact public. The lady was pronounced the first women Crorepati of the seventh season of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). Fatma hails from Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, India & holds a Bachelor of Science degree. She talked of her deceased father during the show, who passed away an year back. As she narrated, he died in the state of Sujud (Prostration) while praying in the Masjid. Her father had taken some loans, keeping their land as mortgage. The repayment of the same led her to KBC, where she was destined to see the first cheque in her name, worth Rs 1 Crore!

I had watched this last episode of KBC right from the beginning. At first, the lady seemed nervous & pressurized. If I remember it right, she took thirty-three seconds to answer the three questions of the Fastest Finger First round. Luckily, she got away with it & was the only contestant to have answered all the three questions. This led her to qualify & reach the hot seat. What I liked about her was the appearance & a serene conduct that she projected. Neither did she popularize any artificial adornments, nor were those ‘the Victoria secret’ eyes. It was all about simplicity & composure. As for her vast knowledge at such a young age, it had mainly come from reading newspapers & watching news channels. As the game progressed, her confidence escalated as she endeavored towards what she may not even have dreamt of. As Indian express quotes, she said “I was very nervous when I wasn’t able to make it to the hot seat in the second last episode also and felt I would have to go home empty handed. But then I aced the fastest finger first round and made my way to the hot seat. Also, I didn’t feel as the Rs one Crore winner until the audience clapped and Bachchanji hugged me. It is a great feeling.” KBC has literally changed almost every aspect of her life. She is also reported having said that the behavior of relatives & other acquaintances around her has changed after she won at the game show. Life is indeed harsh & time a ruthless observer at certain junctions.

Fatma spoke about her tenacity & willingness to participate in the show, as quoted by a news channel. She said “I continued sending SMSes for KBC, and when the opportunity came, I devoted my full attention to prepare for the quiz.” She also added saying “”I had a chance to win Rs 3 crore, but there was this risk of losing this money (Rs 1 crore). I had used all my three lifelines, and since I was not confident, I quit.” This I think was a wise choice on her part, as we know it is better to you lose what was not certain to be earned than to lose what has already been bagged.

Though this season’s KBC has ended, but it has yet again triumphed the confidence of the common man, rejuvenated the spirits of ordinary people of the country & reasserted the very cause of it being there. May the ever so graceful Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, continue to conduct this unique game show & accord the players with eternal happiness & joy.

Photo source: http://newsmedia247.com/firoz-fatima-becomes-first-female-crorepati-kbc-7-finale

 

Jeddah’s Serafi mall at the apex of voyeurism

Serafi mall 2

No, I do not have a grudge with the owner of this mall. Neither do I have a latent motive behind exposing the ridiculousness of the place. The outpour ahead is just an aftermath of a long resistance within that breathed last lately. The resilience died out having seen a humiliating transgression of indecency, voluptuousness & immorality at the so called Mega Mall. The urge to express had never been so compelling before & hence I start the devour on my thoughts one after the other.

The saying “All that glitters is not gold” perfectly substantiates the scenario. Though the structure stands vivid to the observer with it’s vigorous display of attractive glow, it has become a cause of anguish to some like me. I have been going to this mall for over an year now & the dejection is yet to witness a point of culmination.  There is a perfect dissimilarity between the exterior & interior of the building, with regards to the environs. The lavishly adorned mall, with all the essential facilities that have it beckoned as a five star hangout place, in fact hosts some very characterless humans. I am appalled to see young boys & girls portraying such a villainous conduct that my conscience shivers me to the core. Calling the inner atmosphere a mere ‘shameless’ one would belittle the actuality therein. As in most cases, it is not just the male of species that deserve a slander, but the women clad scantily in black, inevitably deserves an equal share of blame here. Usually, males sans family are not allowed to enter the mall on weekend when an influx of visitors is expected. This measure of the mall authorities helps but little to prevent possible chances of harassment, because the security guard on duty is seldom honest. Even I have been stopped several times at the entrance, but got through after making the security personnel understand that I have a genuine reason for the visit, which hardly is of ten minutes. Having been stopped at the gate last week, I started with the routine explanation to the reason of my visit. Meanwhile, an elderly lady, with a walking stick in her hand, came & stood beside cautiously listening to my reasoning. She later interrupted our conversation & told the guard “Go tell the owners to stop those miscreants first, who are spreading filth inside & then concentrate on others”. I very well comprehend what had made her say so to him, for I myself observe the prevailing ignominy.

I see the mingling of both the sexes to an incomprehensible extent. Throwing contact numbers, passing disgraceful comments, stares flying all around, etc. are just a common sight. I often see members of Hai’a ( Committee for the Promotion of virtue and prevention of vice) taking rounds at different floors, but those lovers of immodesty pay no heed to their advice. The authorities even tried to influence the perception of the younger lot by broadcasting live telecast of the Holy Haramain, Makkah & Madinah, on the TV screens inside the mall. But, the scene hasn’t even tilted towards betterment, rather has deteriorated over time due to the profanity of those voyeurs.

I wonder how the parents of these young fellows let them slip out of their hands & reach such a point of insanity. The longer I ponder, the further do I puzzle myself. I wish our young generation understands the risk they are at, being in such a crucial phase of their life. May He guide us all!

The craze of Kaunfessions on Facebook!

Confession

 

The pace at which Facebook has proliferated the peripheries of social network in the recent past is certainly beyond apprehension. The advent of social media, which is on the way to an unprecedented rise in terms of development, is certainly gaining reverence in public. Albeit, like any modern invention of the most intelligent creation, electronic media too has to fight with its demerits to sustain & guarantee its existence in the society. With the audience becoming active imbibers of media content, rather than being passive observers like those of the past, the inquisitiveness to quench the thirst of a fragile learner is best met at this platform. The conscience of the audience has Einstein-ed itself for the better. This is to say that people have learned to differentiate between the actuality & propaganda driven concepts.

Now coming to my point of discussion i.e. Facebook-cum-Confessions. We are currently witnessing an emerging trend on the social network website in the form of Confessions(or I would rather say Kaun?-fessions as you can easily guard your anonymity herein). The Confession pages have recently come in vogue, for Facebook users get a chance to express their agony about something, write about their crushes at school, share their school memories, pen about the cruelty of bosses, and do much more at their own leisure just with the click of a mouse. Yours truly ,being an alumni of International Indian School-Jeddah, is one among those who have contributed to the 4k likes of the page ‘IIS Jeddah Confessions’. I have myself made use of it to share my thoughts about the school & the all special moments spent there. I still reminisce about those wonderful days, as any other student would, having graduated from IISJ in 2009. The nostalgia at times is at such an apex that I find it difficult to accommodate the feeling within. However, my school’s confession page has helped me to be ensnared in that futile longing, yet sustain the merriness.

While going through the confessions, which are already 900+ as of today, I came across some awe-inspiring stories. While some confessors only described their crushes at school or gave elegant details of the notoriety they played at school, others discussed things they would never have spoken about to anyone except this virtual space. These were the narrations mostly from the female of species, who had been victimized in the form of sexual abuse by their very own relatives or every other stranger that roams around in Aziziyah with devilish intentions. I strongly believe that when it comes to women, the concept of ‘character assassination’ comes in as a handy catalyst to aid self-centered ambitions. Character accusation of any sex, without any concrete evidence, is indeed a grave sin. But, the issue becomes even more delicate when it comes to women, as they hold such a pristine stature in Islam that you & me would never have thought of. I saw some confessions, the every read of which jolted the core of me. Indeed, if this was my personal state, how subjugated would have that soul felt having gone through the torture herself. If somebody at this platform had gathered enough strength to describe the horrendous chain of events, there was always that less sensible lot among us to point fingers them. Some said “Nobody can touch a girl unless she wills so herself”, while others opined saying “You were strong enough to defend yourself, why didn’t you?”. I would only say to such opinion makers that think a million times before advising somebody, as you know not what & how the actual situation was. You need to maintain objectivity to the utmost when deciding to have a go at someone. May He protect us all, but you can only comprehend the reality if a similar or direr tragedy has befallen you.

I thought to myself venting out my frustration to such perspectives won’t do any good, because the owners of such perceptions are not impressed with any school of thought other than their’s. Amid all this came a post from the page Admin & as obvious I do not know who he or she is. The Admin gave a thrashing reply to those, who were alleging the victims in return & groaned over the fact that he didn’t have a sister. I know one thing for sure, through this page & mainly after such a response on behalf of all the women, the Admin would have found many sisters, their affection, care & above all their prayers. Lastly, all what I want to say is that I am not trying to flaunt my benevolence by writing all this, but just want to make people understand that they MUST observe utter caution when speaking about such sensitive matters. And particularly what you exert on in the social media have long-lasting impacts on the receivers. Please do not blame women, for they are the reason of your very own existence!

Humsafar….a synonym to magnificence

I recently came across a serial from Pakistan named ‘Humsafar’, written and directed by Zakir Ahmed & Sarmad Sultan, respectively. What attracted me towards the show was its appreciation from a few of my acquaintances. Overwhelmed by their recommendation, I thought of giving it a try and see whether I can justify the extols that engulfed me. The drama comprises of twenty-three episodes. I never assumed that it would turn out to be such a beautiful story. As my comprehension about the plot developed, I couldn’t stop myself from completing it at the nearest hour. Though, it would take a week for a normal viewer to complete the series, but if curiosity ascends to its zenith, like in my case, you can run through within a day or two.

Humsafar is based on a novel written by Farhat Ishtiaq, a female writer, author & scriptwriter from Pakistan. The story mainly revolves around three main characters – Asher Hussain (Fawad Afzal Khan), Khirad Ehsan (Mahira Khan) & Sara Ajmal (Naveen Waqar). Asher is portrayed as an upper-class businessman with a sensible approach towards life. Khirad(protagonist) is the paternal cousin of Asher, who is forcibly married to him under some inevitable circumstances. The third main role Sara(antagonist) is the maternal cousin of Asher and both are close childhood friends. She is shown as a spendthrift upper-class girl who also assists Asher in his business. Through the course of their friendship, Sara develops a liking for her cousin, Asher and is strong-willed to marry him, but is never able to. There are other few characters in the story who play an important role in furthering the sequence. Humsafar begins in Hyderabad, Pakistan, where Khirad lives with her mother in a small house. Her uncle(Asher’s father), who plays the role of Baseerat Hussain(Behroz Sabzwari), is a rich man but was never close to Khirad’s family. Early in the story, Khirad’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, which forces them to leave for Karachi, where Hussain is leading a luxurious life with his family. This is where it all begins, the trials and tribulations of Asher & Khirad.

According to me, the reason for the popularity of this serial was its simplicity and the way it depicted how important trust is, in the blessed relation of a husband and wife. The program conveys how truth can be manipulated and relationships be broken, when the notoriety of a few plays its part. In such a situation, we need to contemplate in a way in which no one would. A dialogue that I liked much in the serial almost translates to ‘It is easy to lie for the first time,but later it creates lot of difficulties. But, truth only takes courage to be spoken at first and may be difficult, later, everything becomes easy.’ Also, the tittle song of this serial deserves a separate mention. It is so melodious & has been appreciated by a wide range of audiences,both national and international. The lyrics of this song are wonderfully written, with the most beautiful diction from the Urdu language. Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch, the singer has sung it so well that it can never be expressed in words. Overall, Humsafar has been a treat to watch for me, being someone who is never interested in dwelling with this sort of fiction. It was recently telecast on ‘Hum TV’, a channel operating in Karachi, Pakistan.

Lastly, I would say that it’s a show for the people of all ages. So, it no doubt is recommended for ALL! Leaving you with the tittle song ‘Woh Humsafar Tha’.