In the Defense of the Ramadan Game Shows

Source: Dawn

Ramadan, the holy fasting month, is here. My personal fervor or lack thereof for the festival aside, you are bound to get caught in its whirlpool if you are living in Pakistan.

It does not matter whether you fast or not, you need to follow a certain eating pattern for the most part due to the society around you. One way or the other, you cannot avoid Ramadan no matter how hard you try. And just like the eating patterns, the piety is infectious too.

But just like everything else such as mass hysteria on the roads, another factor infectious about it is a sense of festivity and entitlement.

Born out of this market need was the showmanship of Geo Network’s original Aalim Online, Aamir Liaquat Hussain. With Aamir Liaquat, Reality TV entertainment meets religiosity. He took it a step further in the recent years by branding the Ramadan Transmissions and turning it into an extravagant variety show. Even more recently, he turned it into a giveaway fest loaded with corporate sponsors big and small who saw their image going with his “circus.”

Yes, “Ramadan circus” was what Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui referred to his show. He considered this gambling an abomination and blasphemous in an “Islamic Republic” that was supposed to safeguard Islamic tenets in a Shariah sanctioned society. He even insisted that the title of Islamic Republic should be removed from the state of Pakistan. What else could you ask for?

Perhaps Justice Siddiqui is one of those self-proclaimed “True Islam” purists who believe that religion should be practiced in its supposed authentic state, unaware that the monolithically solid idea in their perception is nothing more than an abstraction. They are not aware that these religious ideas have become cultural and have evolved. Even the Prophet himself could not have stopped them from evolving. He is not aware that people don’t just want to but will practice Ramadan on their own terms.

Justice Shaukat Siddiqui – Source: geo.tv

The judge makes a fool out of himself by threatening to ban Fahad Mustafa Tunio, Aamir Liaquat, and Waseem Badami for life, wonder what that means in the glossary of Pakistani justice. Are these the guardians of democracy, free speech, and freedom of the press in this country? Are these the authoritative figures who cite the superiority of the Constitution every second hour? We must not share their hideous, anti-freedom, authoritarian, totalitarian views. It would even be a duty to resist this stupidity which is a far more ridiculous spectacle than the TV circus it condemns.

In the day and age when the worst form of state censorship of journalism has returned, we have a judge that wants to worsen the censorship on the media. While there is little doubt that

Before our self-righteous hate of commercialism becomes too out of control, we must not forget that people always complain about not having free handouts during the holy month. Now that someone has come up with that, we have a problem with it. This is what freedom is about and it is manifesting itself into this. And then again what’s the harm? Even if a very small pool of people are being given electronic appliances, and occasionally motorbikes and cars randomly? It is not going to end world hunger but it is certainly not contributing to it. It only creates a bunch of jobs people like Justice Siddiqui believe the government is supposed to create.

Ramadan is a festival of gluttony after all. It is only appropriate that it should be celebrated with greed.

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Accepted Selective Prejudice, Identity Crisis and the Threat of Arabianization

Source: camaare.com

Source: camaare.com

I encountered a hilarious article on my facebook feed, which was so pointless, I could hardly believe it found space in print. But then again, it was Daily Mail.

Nevertheless, it is blurted out of a columnist attempting to propagate one of the greatest fallacies in the popular secular-liberal, but not-so-secular-liberal viewpoint. The fallacy being that Persianization of an already Persianized Urdu culture is something secular and that Arabianization of it could threaten its secularism. When it can be safely said that there is hardly any difference linguistically as long as you are looking at the secular aspects, unless it is a choice of aesthetics.

This brings you to the contentious Ramadan Kareem greeting, Ramadan being the more widely recognized transliteration of the fasting month, known in the Indian sub-continent as Ramzan. As the Arabic “dwaad” is pronounded as “zwaad” in Persian and Urdu, which sadly makes Ramadan technically correct if you are speaking Arabic.

It is indeed a borrowed novelty for the natives of the sub-continent which is widely used in English and Arabic media outside Pakistan, qualifying it to be immediately considered a threat to the “Persian” roots of our Urdu speaking population in the sub-continent. As for the myriad of other happily adopted novelties, well let us choose to ignore at the moment.

This is kind of hilarious because it is the educated English speaking urban population which uses it anyway instead of the more religious and conservative circles. Therefore, those adopting the rather alien greeting immediately become a target for ridicule. Ridiculed for adopting something foreign to their usual culture, mind you.

However, the joke is also on the people making fun of it in the first place because their complain is one about Arabian and especially Saudi imperialism and its adverse effects on the sub-continent culture. This is so as apparently, they are perfectly fine with the Persian and Western imperialist influences. So apparently, it is a political matter rather than merely linguistic and semantic. And of course it is also about which cultural invasions you open your arms to and accept.

Are we not supposed to be Indians when we are threatened by the ills of the foreign culture and become defensive of our own? So when Muhammad Bin Qasim’s invasion of Sindh is condemned, it would only make sense to hold the Delhi Sultanate invaders, the Afghan and Persian raiders and the Central Asian Turkic Moguls in contempt as well. Likewise, it would also make sense to have little respect for the oppressive Muslim nobles and their culture and language. Why embrace their culture when rejecting that of another?

I understand most of our liberals’ racism against anything and everything Arabic. Its closest analogy is the hatred of Muslim population of Jews for political reasons concerning Israel, as Saudi Arabia is the primary source of this emotion. And there are number of reasons to hate Saudi Arabia, such as their brand of the destructively extremist Wahabi Islam and its malicious infiltration in India, as well as the alleged funding of the Taliban and the alarmingly growing anti-Shia terrorism. All valid reasons.

Perhaps, it is a Sunni-Shia thing after all. And I do share their frustrations about the growing religiosity, which only means violent trouble in Pakistan’s case, but the sort of proposals that are put forth in the article, and are widely endorsed among our enlightened crowd, are simply stupid to an audience which has already not committed to condemn or root for any one side for whatever reasons. To me as an Indian, both Saudi and Persian cultures, are foreign. However, I do not find a reason to hate either of them, except for their equally oppressive political regimes.

What is so good about Persian, Turkish, or Urdu even, I would go on to say, while acknowledging the rejection of Arabic? Urdu being the language developed in the times of the Persian speaking Mogul emperors, heavily borrowing from Persian and Turkish. Is racism of the more enlightened members of our society only reserved for Arabs?

But while I could consider their objections on Arabs (how cruelly and unjustly synonymized with Saudi Arabian) pretty valid, I’d have equal contempt for our Persian and Turkish invaders, and therefore, their culture. Personally I don’t have problem with any one of them though. But it is not about individuals, right?

And what in the world is so secular about “Khuda Hafiz”? Even when the greeting does not involve the Muslim Allah, as your fanatic conservative Muslim would insist on including anyway, it still involves some sort of God. That is not secular last time I checked what secular things are supposed to be. While using the word reason here is an insult to its very spirit, but all of this really shows some twisted reasoning.

But here is the real problem which many native Indian Muslims, who are proud of their motherland culture, forget. Why are they following an imperialistic, oppressive Arabian religion, if they were not to take its cultural dictation? I say this because Islam precisely requires you to do so, at least if you are practicing and religious. It is not just a religion, it requires you to change your lifestyle with a variety of soft and hard threats. It requires you to become a pseudo-Arab.

But of course there are things we still could have amended over the centuries, especially the more “secular” of rulers in Indian history. Why do we offer the namaz, oh wait, salah in Arabic? Even the most devout of Christians in the American South say their prayers in English. Surely. we could have at least done this much. Ideally speaking, had we not accepted Hinduism as our religious heritage, we should have at least come up with our own version of Islam. Oh wait, we have. That branch of Islam is a condemned cult now. Good effort though.

Let’s admit. Indian Muslims, yes especially the secular Pakistani ones, are culturally and even intellectually bankrupt. And it is nothing more than their cultural bankruptcy and badly confused identity, which makes them propagate these absurdities and to end up looking ridiculous. No matter how politically enlightened and self-sufficient they appear to be, they have hardly anything to call their own.

Let it be their faith, their language, whatever ideology they claim to follow, their high claims of ancestry or hilariously even their names. Many of the folks would actually go to great lengths to find a genetic connection outside the sub-continent, especially when it coincides with the Prophet’s lineage. They have a history of worshiping foreign cultures. What a painful identity crisis. 

I have much greater respect for the Hindus who at least pray to their own deities in their own language, despite their tendency of worshiping anyone from outside India too, and who name their children after the adjectives in Ramayana, Vedas and Gita instead of some Arabian book, or after some Persian or Turkic warlord.

The complains of cultural insecurity by our enlightened are not only conceding they have an inferior culture, but also makes them look like the very people they criticize. They remind me of the insecure Pakistani conservatives who would complain of cultural invasions from India and other foreign cultures corrupting their society. Honestly, I hardly see any difference between the two. Both idiots of the highest order.

You know, I would like to propose to the religious-conservatives, the secular-conservatives, the religious-liberals and the secular-liberals among the Muslims of India a better option. Drop all the Arabian and Persian and Sunni and Shia crap, and adopt English as their language of choice. At least, it is completely secular in the context of regional history and has no sectarian politics associated with it.

Considering that the British and the Americans have been and still are our most recent and current masters, let us free ourselves of these hassles by adopting a language which is recognized the world over. And while there is no harm in making fun of each other’s accents, coming up with new dialects is a great way of celebrating diversity. Down with Arabianization and Persianization, let us Anglicize our culture.

Ramzan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem, the sub continent is not under the threat of Arabic cultural invasion. It is merely under the threat of the cultural and intellectual bankruptcy of Indian Muslims. As it has always been.

And by Indians, I mean the natives of the sub-continent, especially Pakistanis, the self-hating Indians.

The Ramadan Independence Day Post 2012

Source: The Citizens Archive of Pakistan/DAWN

There is something special about the independence day of 2012. It falls in the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Actually, it is one of the rare occasions that the anniversary of independence falls on the same day both in Gregorian and Islamic calendars.

Patriotic and religious people in Pakistan will tell you that Pakistan gained its independence from the British Raj on the 27th of Ramadan, 1366 Hijri, which was on August 14, 1947. A Holy Night in the Islamic tradition. The night when the Koran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

65 years ago, a massive communal migration took place across the borders of the then East Pakistan, West Pakistan and the modern Indian Republic. Everybody knows about probably the greatest migration in human history.

It was spectacular to some, hard to believe. A matter of faith and hope for others. Not a choice for the rest.

To me it was insane, brutal and tragic. With due respect to the immigrants and the cause of migration. They are certainly the bravest souls of the Indian independence movement. Not Jinnah or Nehru or Azad or Gandhi.

After 65 years, Ramadan coincides with the independence day again, almost the same date, the 26th maybe, and it seems that the communal migration has still not come to a halt.

Only days ago, there was news of Hindu families visiting India saying that they were unwilling to return to Pakistan as they feared for their lives. Furthermore, there has been pretty consistent migration of Sindhi Hindus from Pakistan to India, who have been a regular victim of abduction, abuse and forced conversion to Islam, particularly their women.

This seems to be a dream come true for the Muslim religious purist. After all, this country was made for Muslims.

The other day I overheard a child in a public transport van that I was sharing with a family. She was surprised on learning that Hindus and Christians lived in Pakistan too, just an innocent little child. The word Pakistani was synonymous to Muslim to her. Her mother had to explain to her how and why non-Muslims were Pakistani too.

I don’t blame her. That’s the way most fervent religious parents bring up their children in Pakistan.

I grew up hearing this slogan, like millions of other Pakistanis.

Pakistan ka matlab kya. La Ilaha Il-Allah.

What’s the meaning of Pakistan? No God except Allah.

Teach a child this and don’t expect them to consider any non-Muslim a Pakistani anymore.

My word, recalling this slogan just sent shivers down my spine. It always horrified me, if my memory serves me well.

I am shocked it never occurred to the able leaders of All-India Muslim League.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam, was supposedly a secular politician. But apparently even he did not bother setting the record straight with that kind of slogans.

But his actions spoke much louder than his words or whatever principles he supposedly followed.

Some are worrying about the Hindu migration. Outraging. Complaining what the state is doing to protect them. I’d rather like to see them safe anyway they possibly can be.

But why worry?

So if Muslims were migrating to Pakistan from India in 1947 and Hindus were migrating from Pakistan to India, why be surprised that they are still at it in 2012?

Why even bother with the white band in the flag?

This was what we wanted and we are achieving the goal.

Slowly, but surely.

Source: Wikipedia

To a Hindu-free Pakistan.

The Real Pakistan.

The Pakistan of Allah.

The Pakistan of Ramadan.

The Pakistan of Layla-tul-Qadr.

The Pure Pakistan.

Happy Independence Day.

And

Allah-o-Akbar.

Courtesy/Artist: Sabir Nazar © 2012