I have seen evil in the eyes of fatwas,
At a time when the permitted is being twisted into the forbidden
A monster that emerged from its hiding place
Whenever the veil is lifted from the face of truth
- Hissa Hilal
No one would have thought that the stage of “Million’s Poet”, an Arab version of “American Idol” would become a stage for one woman to fight the century old doctrines of Arab religious fanatics. When she read her poem titled as “The chaos of Fatwa’s”, at the same time, many clerics joined heads together to draft a fatwa against her.
The poem not only got her to the finals of the show but also got her life threats from clerics. Hissa Hilal never went to university but in an interview she said she wants to fight extremism, which has become a worrying phenomenon. Mixing of sexes in Arab culture is a big NO. But Hissa Hilal considers the mixing of men and women at work “a necessity for daily life”. These thoughts don’t bode well with the clerics who want to strengthen their hegemony over the general public.
Hissa Hilal is one of those few courageous women in the Arab world who have decided to raise a voice for their rights, the rights given to them by Islam, Quran and humanity. A video report on Hissa Hilal reciting her poem can be seen here
Archive for March, 2010
I have seen evil in the eyes of fatwas,
The much awaited 23rd March 2010 for ZH camp, the day they were supposed to celebrate the “Takmeel-e-Pakistan” day translated which means “Completion of Pakistan” turned out to be a bubble which finally burst. Claiming to gather a crowd of thousands, hardly 100 people showed up for it. The blame of course was put on other factors stopping them for achieving their destiny. The best part is that after the failure of the “Holy mission”, a press release from the ZH camp gave the opinion that the same thing happened at “Hudaiba” during Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) time.
Much of the ridiculousness we have seen in the past one year should end after this. There was news about people from his own camp revolting against him and leaving the clan. Smart talk and twisting facts would have gotten you this far only Mr. Zaid Hamid. This is where it all ends. What made you think that you would be able to hide behind some smartly scripted conversations till the end? The bubble has finally burst. I will quote the ending lines from Nadeem Paracha’s blog published on 25th march 2010, the writer said and I quote:
“Farewell Mr. Hamid. Thank you for the memories.”
Every society for its survival and revival needs people who specialize in doing the impossible. Individuals who can beat all odds not only by their education, power, wealth or influence but just by having that small seed of faith in themselves, individuals who can make a difference. The long ignored community of Vihari district might not have thought that they have someone among them who will come to them with hopes of a better future for them.
Living and working in USA for twenty years for various national and International institutes, advisor to lawmakers and developmental agencies in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, Middle East and the North America, Ch. Usman Ali returned for good to the land where his roots were.
For the month of March, we invited Ch. Usman Ali as our positive speaker for the monthly “Positive perceptions – celebrating positivity” interactive session held on 23rd March 2010. While speaking to the audience, Ch. Usman Ali shared his motivation of why he thought of coming back to Pakistan when everyone here is planning to leave due to adverse living conditions. He stressed on the need to take responsibility and do our part to make things better. He further said that the time he has spent in Pakistan has given him an unshakable belief that things in Pakistan are already changing for good and things will get better in future.
Ch. Usman Ali spear heads the PANACEA (Meaning: A remedy for all ills or difficulties) project at 11 Union Councils of Vehari District in Southern Punjab. Under this project, low interest credit is provided to women in order to develop their economic condition. Under the same umbrella, Usman Ali and his team are also working in disease prevention in this area. During the Q/A session, Ch. Usman Ali stresses the need to take ownership for actions. He supported the notion of “Don’t just preach but believe”.
Watch this space for the video recording of the event. Video is available here. Please feel free to tell us about such positive people who we can invite and get inspired from.
A year ago, the whole nation came out on roads for the not only for the restoration of Chief Justice of Pakistan but for the word ‘JUSTICE’ itself. A statement from the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court (LHC) about the involvement of a minority group in the recent blasts at Lahore has irked the nation equally. This is not what we hoped of, dreamed of, strived for and struggled for. Just because someone is from a different faith and hence a minority in the ‘Islamic’ republic of Pakistan does not means he is less loyal to Pakistan than a Muslim Pakistani.
The observation by the CJ of LHC is a slap on the faces of people who made the restoration of CJ of Pakistan possible. Did My Lord ever confirm that if it was ONLY Muslim Pakistani’s who participated in the restoration movement? My Lord, every Pakistani irrelevant of their religion has put their faith in a just judiciary. If you discriminate between them on the basis of religion or ethnicity, the corridors of justice will echo in their screams for years.
Martin Luther king once said and I quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. My Lord, we denounce such remarks by a highly renowned and profound professional.
In Pakistan and the whole Islamic world, fatwa’s are never that hard to find. Whether it’s about smoking a cigarette or blowing oneself up in the name of God, we have a long list of it. Till date there have been Fatwa’s against suicide bombings declaring it to un-Islamic, inhumane and a moral crime. What we lacked was a detailed observation on the claims made by the extremist groups. An answer to their interpretation of Quran and Hadith. And now we have one.
Very recently a very elaborative fatwa came out from the renowned Islamic scholar Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri. What makes this fatwa different from others is that it’s not a pager. It is a 600 page documents which answers each and every argument put forward by Al-Qaeda in favor of “Suicide Bombing” and falsifies it in the light of Quran and Hadith. The scholar describes al-Qaeda as an “old evil with a new name” that has not been amply challenged. During the speech Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri said:
“They [terrorists] can’t claim that their suicide bombings are martyrdom operations and that they become the heroes of the Muslim Umma [global brotherhood]. No, they become heroes of hellfire, and they are leading towards hellfire.”
Talking to the participants at the historic event, he stressed on the point that suicide bombers are out of Islamic circle. He insisted upon youth not to become cannon fodder for the terrorist elements. What makes this fatwa different is that it is a thorough research and answers all questions a young brain would have for the word “jihad”. All youngsters must make an effort and try to read the fatwa to clear out their vision about what Islam has to say about this so called “Holy War” of these frantic Taliban’s.
There is a very fine line between being friendly, kind and being a harasser. Unfortunately much of the men in our society hasn’t been able to draw that line and can be seen crossing it usually at work. The very few number of females who have the will and courage to pursue a career in a restricted society like ours; many of them give up their dreams because of the pressure to handle sexual harassment. This does not means that they did not have the character and moral strength to face it but it was the simple fact of lacking a regulation which would facilitate them to pull the offender in the corridors of justice.
On 25th February 2010, NA rose above the conservative opposition and unanimously passed a landmark bill to penalize harassment of women at workplaces. The religious fanatics did oppose it, giving references from Quran and saying that men have authority over women. How disappointingly versed is their logic? Which religion in this world would allow manipulating a weaker gender? If it does so, it just looses the credibility to be even called a ‘religion’. It would be just a cult.
We congratulate all the social sector organizations, women rights activists and media for the sincere effort put in achieving this historic bill for the protection of your sisters, wives and mothers. It is a long struggle with many mile stones to be achieved but at least this is a beginning.
On 20th February 2010, We arranged a seminar in Lahore on the subject of “Examining development assistance”. It is a crucial question and with all the associated propagandas, it becomes even more crucial to address this subject and convey the facts to the general public. At the same time, the debate addressed the core issue of self- accountability for the involved parties. Government of Pakistan (GoP) spends around 2.5% of its budget on health and education. The need for more spending is there but it cannot be adjusted due to the limited resources. The difference or the gap is therefore met by the development aid. A vital issue discussed at the same platform was the transparency of this development assistance received. It was stressed that transparency should be ensured at all levels and the general public must have access to the information about how much aid was received. How and where was it spent? A citizen monitoring approach was also highlighted. For the optimal usage of the aid received, it was stressed that all projects should be based on a thorough, comprehensive and exhaustive research. Participants also agreed on the fact that effective and better governance is needed for effective management of the development assistance that Pakistan receives. There is a need for more coordination and enhanced engagement of all stakeholders. The participants also stressed on the need to stop the ‘blame game’ and take responsibility for our mistakes.
The seminar was attended by a large number of people from various walks of life including the academia, media, youth, researchers and members of other civil society organizations. The seminar looked at various aspects of development assistance. Since 2007, Pakistan has become the 6th largest recipient of Official Development Assistance (ODA) receiving US $ 2.2 billion. The participants of the seminar emphasized that this assistance should be effectively utilized for the interests of the citizens.
People from the small village of Ghulam Muhammad Jamali in Baluchistan would have never thought that one day one peasant woman will be knocking on their doors asking them to vote for her. The ‘knock’ is not only limited to the door of the house, it is a ‘knock’ on the door of the ideology of the men in that area. Ironically, Mai Jori is contesting from the same area where a few women were buried alive in 2008 which was termed as ‘Honor Killing’ and the issue was very prominently highlighted on news channels. Two years after the unfortunate incident, one woman is marching the streets, from village to village what she calls “Haqooq March (Rights March)” for her gender’s honor.
Mai Jori is illiterate and works on a farm with her husband. She has nine children and each morning she travels 2 km to get water for her family. As evident she has no funds to carry out her electoral campaign. This has been managed by the local communities who have gathered the funds on their own. She has also been now given a ticket from ANP (Awami national Party). This is a big step in moving towards a vibrant and dynamic democracy. One woman has decided to take up the challenge and fight the cruel doctrines which exist in that society.
Whether she wins or loses the contest is not important. She has made a statement already by announcing she will contest the elections. We strongly encourage our readers to celebrate the spirit of this woman and extend their unconditional support to her. Mai Jori Jamali is an inspiration for all the women who oppressed and feel that they cannot break the shackles.
It started from Karachi. Went to Lahore, made its way to Faisalabad, raised eye-brows in Islamabad and is now heading may be to Multan or some other city, I am not sure. The whole saga is popularly known as a movement to wake-up Pakistan. But the million dollar question is: How do you wake up a nation by inflicting fear in their hearts? You bombard them with the so called theories of how a master-plan of our extermination is in place. How the whole of the world is conspiring against us else we would have been the first nation to walk on the moon. Leave aside the fact that much of us don’t even know about Michael Jackson’s moon-walk item. You constantly tell them the lost glories of your fore-fathers and tell them to pick up a Kalashnikov and go in search of that dream. Sounds insane, isn’t it? You captivate the youth with your version of “Ghazwa-e-Hind – The Holy War in the subcontinent” in which you exaggerate to the lengths that after capturing India the same army will head to Israel and free the world from its atrocities. Labeling half of this nation as people bought by foreign agencies and the rest half got their applications denied.
Psy-ops, rumor mill, half-truths, half-lies, tell-a-tale; one can find so many adjectives for the messages conveyed through this “wake up Pakistan” campaign. The intention is good; it’s the implementation which does not hold true to our values. Would not it be better if the focus of this campaign would have been on waking up this nation more on civic grounds? How to be a law abiding citizen? What are your responsibilities as a student, as a worker, as a neighbor, as a citizen? How you can help Pakistan get through these tough times? How to co-exist with people belonging from different faiths and promote a society which shows tolerance towards all faiths?
It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We are a nation facing a menace of terrorism and our government and armed forces are in a constant struggle to safe guard our homeland. The most we can do is just to acknowledge their efforts and just give them the feeling that their sacrifices won’t go in vain.