Category: Islam

From a Formerly Disillusioned Pakistani

The Sounds of Freedom by PSO

Today is the 75th independence day of Pakistan. This dear little country, so often dwarfed and swept under the rug with her neighbour India, has completed her 74th year as an independent state.

I find myself so often changing my opinions on this matter. Two days ago, when I was reminded that the independence day was near, I felt disinterested. What independence? Have you seen the state of the country? Have you seen the state of the people? Then yesterday, I saw a delivery man riding his bike proudly adorned with small flags of Pakistan on both its handles. And today, the 14th of August, I woke up to wishes of a happy independence day. I thought again, is the country happy? Are its people happy? Does this day deserve celebration? Why did the separation happen at all? Maybe it would’ve been better if it hadn’t. At least these two countries wouldn’t be ceaselessly bickering over every issue. So much blood could’ve been spared. Think of how bloody the events of the partition were…

Then it ocurred to me, would those people whose blood was spilled, want us to treat this day with such disdain? Would this day matter to them? Of course, it would. Why? Because they believed in the purpose behind the partition. They believed they deserved a land to practise Islam with freedom. They believed that they mattered.

So much of this has now been reduced to “What independence? Have you seen the state of the country? Have you seen the state of the people?” And perhaps, intentionally. We have come to believe our country, its purpose, its people don’t really matter much anymore. Where are we on the map? How many awards did we win in the Olympics? How does the world look at us?

Well, is that why we fought for independence anyway?

There are good people. And there are bad people. Neither of these define the country. What defines the country is its founding principle? Why did Iqbal voice his dream? What exactly was his dream? A land of Islam, by Islam, for Islam. Not even Muslims. Islam. Not a land of the people, by the people, for the people. A land where the word of Allah could be propagated and hailed with freedom. A land where people of Allah could worship Him and invite others to worship Him. Where the Azaan could soar high and proud.

So now, when I say, Happy Independence Day to my fellow Pakistanis, I say it with a proud, hopeful heart. Proud that we’re still standing. Hopeful that we will be able to restore our country to its intended glory. I don’t say it from a nationalistic perspective, I say it from a Muslim’s perspective.

This isn’t to say that all is well. This is to say that all can be well. If only we remember why we gained freedom in the first place… If only we remember it was Allah who made this happen the way it did… If only we remember to live in the present, to better the present, to create the present.

I’ll Meet You There (2020)

A Muslim cop goes undercover at his estranged father’s mosque while his daughter hides her passion for a forbidden dance, uncovering a shocking family secret. (IMDb)

This blogpost is available as a podcast here: https://anchor.fm/moniba-mehboob/episodes/Ill-Meet-You-There-2020-e15t0li

Poster from https://illmeetyoutherethefilm.com/

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”
– Rumi

I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t read the above quote by Rumi. With this as its titular phrase, the recently unveiled movie I’ll Meet You There sure had big shoes to fill.

Written (with contributing writers Rajeev Dassani and Uttam Sirur) and directed by Iram Parveen Bilal, I’ll Meet You There is a confusing movie about confusions between the past, present, and future intermingling with themes of identity, hybridity, and faith in the context of immigration. All of the actors have done a fantastic job of their given roles, the direction is good enough, the setting and the dressings are all as they should be. I found nothing lacking in those aspects. However, when it comes to the plot, the themes that the movie tried to tackle, the character development, and the dialogues, I felt there was a lot of room for improvement and clarification. You can leave loose ends when your characters have been developed well enough for the audience to reach its own conclusion, but when your plot and dialogues leave so much unsaid…

Watching this movie was like watching a beautiful abstract painting come to life and eventually end up as a muddy mixture of several different colours standing out, as they so often do. I can say both good things and bad things about the movie, but let’s start with first impressions.

The movie began with intriguing parallels between the movements of salah and ballet. The protagonist, Dua, is shown dancing gracefully as in other frame, Muslim men pray in congregation in a mosque. To a Muslim, these parallels can be irritating as they were to me, but perhaps this is what the movie tries to do. It tries to blur the lines. It pinpoints some burning questions, brings them forth for examination, and just when we expect the flames to go off, it pours water on them. I say this because I honestly felt the movie had great potential. It addresses some scathing issues of the immigrant communities in America and elsewhere, but it just seems afraid to bring the address to its deserved and needed climax.

Some of these scathing issues are of the Muslim communities facing a lot of unjust judgment, interrogation, and hurdles after 9/11. Some are of parts of Indian / Pakistani cultures melding together and being minterpreted. Some are of love and modesty in modern life. The movie also addresses some feminist questions: What does Islam say about how men should treat women? What does Allah say about how we should dress and conduct ourselves? It mainly tries to talk about intentions. The bottom message in the paraphrased words of the character Baba: If your intention is clear, then do whatever you desire. This message is what confused me the most. Since the movie seems to set out to correct the representation of Muslims in mainstream media, I feel the movie should have stuck to that and seen it to an end befitting the religion and culture it was trying to represent. Instead, the movie resolves upon what seems to be a sufistic ending which I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t yet watched it.

I admire the writers for showing clearly the prejudice Muslims often face in foreign countries, especially after 9/11/ I admire them for showing the repurcussions of that, for holding the system responsible, for showing that a man does not go against community for duty, and does not cower from duty when it clashes with community. I admire that they had courage to show how teens go exactly towards what you try to fiercely “protect” them from, and how good parenting always gives reasons for why something is being encouraged or discouraged. I do feel that some parts of the movie could have been excluded, for example the romance between Shonali and Majeed seems to contradict the representation of Muslims. I also feel that Dua’s mother shouldn’t have been kept an ambiguous figure.

One thing I’ll give a lot of credit to this movie for: It made me think. About a lot of things. For a lot of reasons. Perhaps not in the line the movie tried to take its audience, but it made me question numerous things, and for that, I’m grateful.

Void: filled with emptiness

If you feel a void inside you, He can fill it. And only He can fill it. Some of us go through our entire lives trying to fill that void. The world tried to replace God with nationalism back in the 17th century. It has been a void in itself since. 

The dictionary defines a void in several ways. The most fitting being “a completely empty space”. How does a void feel? It feels like a million holes drilled into your being, your soul and heart and mind and organs (and for me, especially my eyes and feet). It feels like this filling heaviness which makes you drowsy and keeps jolting you awake too. It feels like those holes are overflowing with black substance ( I feel we’re unfair to poor black, it never did any harm but always has negative connotations). It feels like… depression, perhaps? But not the clinical depression. And it always leaves you wanting more of everything. Perhaps not in a materialistic way ( personally, I always want more food, more stationary, more time, more contact, more words, more books, more leaves and more stones).

This void… How is it so completely empty and full a the same time? It’s full of emptiness. But the moment you prostrate, the moment your forehead touches the ground, the moment your soul turns back, trust me, you’ll find the void gratified. For that moment, it ceases to exist. It’s like Mrs. Ramsay’s moment of clarity and certainty. But better. And it doesn’t have to be fleeting.

If you feel a void inside you, touch your forehead to the ground and talk to Him. He’ll respond no matter how long it’s been.

Thoughts >Identity > Human

Have you ever thought of how some things are everything and nothing at the same time? I find it strange. It is strange, obviously. And have you thought of how almost every statement can be justified in one way or another? And that many opposite things can actually equal each other? If you’ve thought of these things, then have you thought about what purpose this serves? Thinking. What does it do? Especially thinking of such perplexing things.

.

13_3

And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers; and from all of the fruits He made therein two mates; He causes the night to cover the day. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” {Ar-Ra’ad:3}

.

It’s becoming common these days to find people, especially teenagers, thinking about deep matters; coming up with philosophical theories, twisting simple phenomenon into some unfathomable philosophy which might even be very impressive. But what use is it? Does it help us discover the universe? Does it help you get closer to the Creator? Does it help you in this world? Does it do anything but make you a mysterious complex character who others observe in awe? Maybe it does. Maybe. We could even come up with some very profound logics to this. I’m not here to judge that.

I just think there are better things to ponder upon than triangles that could begin from one point or from two. Who created the things we twist into philosophies? Why were they created? What’s the purpose of stars? What’s the wisdom of seasons? Why are humans the way they are? Why isn’t everyone the same? Wouldn’t everything be better if we all had the same capabilities and weaknesses? Wouldn’t the world be fairer if everyone had everything they wanted? Then why not? Why is there any evil at all in this world? Why do infants die? Why does war exist? What is disease for? Why is the universe the way it is? How come everything nature has created is so perfect? Who could’ve thought of such complexities that the world possesses? And then who could’ve created such fine detail? And then who could manage so much in such a balanced way? And then…. Who could destroy every single thing to ever exist in the universe? What are angels? Where did they come from? What is religion? Why do we need it? Why does the world contain proportions of everything? Who could think of all of this? How did it happen? WHY did it happen? The world that we live in, does it actually even really exist? How do you know everything isn’t just a figment of your imagination? What is this time that we so believe in? Why does death come? What comes after? Humans couldn’t just exist once to vanish forever, could they? Nothing that is something can ever really become completely nothing. Or can it?

We’re humans, and there are two things we do subconsciously and constantly. Breathing, thinking. These two things actually affect each other largely. Our breathing rhythms affect our moods. Our emotions influence our breathing rhythms. Point being, we can’t help thinking all sorts of things, but our thoughts do eventually become our words which might become our acts; directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously. I remember when we first got a TV in our house, I was afraid of it. I think I was 12 or 13. Then I began watching it, and used to think the shows won’t affect me, after all, I’m only watching them. I’m not doing anything of the sort. But I did watch, those things imbedded in my thoughts, and eventually I was confident enough to just joke about them, and then they seeped into my acts in such an unnoticeable way, I couldn’t even put the blame on the TV.

Hence, thoughts > words > actions
And I might go as far as to say: actions > identity

So then basically your thoughts make up your identity, your personality. You can’t stop thinking, and you mustn’t. But think good then. Think of things that give you something to live for. Think about where you are, and what you’re doing there. Think about why you are where you are. Think about how long you’re there for, and how long you’ll live for. Think about whether you’re ready to die. Think about life, and whether your life is good enough.

Think to find yourself. Think to believe.

~Moniba.

Palestine, Oh Palestine

There is this place
It’s called Palestine
It used to be pretty
And peaceful and lively
The people lived as they do
Everywhere else.

Then there came to be this place
It’s called Israel
Which is basically Palestine
But mercilessly occupied
It attacked Palestine
And took over most of its land.

So now in Palestine
Or what’s left of it
Where there used to be quaint houses
There’s just a lot of rubble
With broken and burnt doors, utensils and limbs
Jutting out from underneath.

Where there used to be bright smiles
That could light up the world
There now are tears,
burn marks and bloodied cuts
That can rend any human heart
Except those that are not human.

It is a war, not between states
Not between races, nor between fates
Nay, this is a bigger war, one of faith
At least, that is how it started
But now, it is between
human and non-human.

Tell me, please
Is it human to kill innocent people
For the sake of self, and the sake of  hate?
Is it human then also, to remain quiet
And watch such tyranny be?
It must also be human, to  point guns at 4 year olds.

And by this definition,
Humans of this world, humans that feel
Are not humans at all, because they care
And those that don’t, well
They’re humans at their prime
The most evolved of them all.

Israel, I salute you, a salute full of mock
At your utter humanity, and benevolence
Your bombs when they land
With the cheers of your people,
And your guns when they point
At 4-year old terrorists; surely they can kill.

Palestine, I stand with you, sincerely
Your children, your people, your land and your peace
Are my children, my people, my land and my peace
Their bombs when they land, make my prayers fiercer
Their guns when they shoot, make my eyes water
But know this, Palestinians, we are one.

So when they shoot you, I bleed
And when they bomb you, I ache
When they hurt you, I feel the pain
And when you cry for help, I pray
We are blood, we are one body
We are the Ummah, we will rise.

Until then we pray, we pray and we try
Dear Palestine, stay strong, stay firm…
Help shall come, in ways unimaginable
Do not weaken, and do not grieve
You will overcome them, if you are true believers
Allah has promised, and His promise he upholds.

~Moniba.

Golden and Silver

NEWSMAG-Golden-Silver

That dent upon your brow
And frown upon your lips
That nervous twitch of your fingers
And the habit of angry pacing

I wish it were of use.

That genuine smile of purity
Those eyes when wide with intensity
The glisten of your tears
And your everlasting hope

I wish it weren’t in vain.

Your random endless talents
That silver tongue, the play of words
Your mind so quick, and thoughts so clear
That golden pen, and the wand of vision

I wish… You knew to use them.
Not for you, not for them.
Just for Him, and then for all.

~Moniba.

Goodbyes are not forever: A Gift for you

I’ve decided to take a break from blogging. I think I’ll start again in December maybe. But i’m not sure. So I wanted to leave you all with something amazing. Something powerful, beautiful, productive and worth your time. so here goes:

`

I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Massacre of the Muslim Ummah

1174809_10151757498124166_1864236036_n

I am angry. That’s a mild word though, for what i’m feeling.

Is the world blind? Are the people standing for “the religion of humanity” dead now? Why don’t you see the massacre of Egypt? And before this, the massacre of Burma??  Why don’t I see an uproar  against this?! Are the Muslims dead too? Or asleep? WAKE UP!! Wake up to the dead, mangled and bloody bodies of your Egyptian brotherhood. Whether they’re 18, or 94, or 2200. They’re our blood, our mud!  Why even think about the figure?…

And what is the massacre for? Government forces were using machine guns, snipers, AK-47 and M-16 rifles and were firing into the crowd. According to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, at least 2,200 people were killed and 10,000 others injured in the crackdown by the Egyptian security forces on protest sit-ins held by Morsi supporters in Cairo.

Why? Because they wanted their president back. They wanted the Muslim regime back. And they didn’t resort to violence, not really, no. In fact, according to reports, they were shouting on speakers to the military, “don’t shoot at us, we are your brothers.”, with nothing but sticks in their hands. They don’t even have an army.

“It’s impossible to count all the injured. There are millions of them. Some are dropping dead at the hospital entrance,” said el-Morsi, who is close to the former president, describing the operation carried about by Egyptian military police against the pro-Morsi encampments on Wednesday morning.

”In 12 days of fighting in Gaza, there were less dead than in six hours here.“

”It’s a genocide,“ said Dr Yehia Makkayah, a medic at the Rabaa hospital. ”They want us to disappear from the country. I could never imagine that Egyptians would shoot Egyptians using these weapons.“

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said international passivity had paved the way for the military-backed Egyptian government’s crackdown, which included violence in areas beyond the capital that killed at least 14 protesters.

Me?…. I’m baffled at the fact that this is Muslims killing Muslims. How could the interim government do this? How could the army carry out their orders? Do they have no hearts? Or have their hearts turned to stone, as Allah says in the Quran:

But their hearts were hardened and the devil made all that they used to do seem fair unto them!” (6:43)

“Then woe unto those whose hearts are hardened against remembrance of God. Such are in plain error.” (39:22)

Only such humans could do something so terrible. Even some of the soldiers said that they were shooting for no reason. Just shooting into the crowds of men, women, and children. Several articles described scenes that made  me cry… The tragedy is unfathomable. If you see the images, which I didn’t have the heart to put up here, you might feel their pain too. But the brothers? Several of them were found smiling… They were satisfied, not because they were fighting and dying, but because they were fighting and dying for Allah. They are martyrs. Martyrs deserve to be remembered proudly. Martyrs are lucky.

Fear not, my Muslim brothers and sisters. The sun will rise again. We have Allah with us. And He knows best. Strengthen your faith by this turmoil, so that you can do your part. Do whatever you can do for them, or with them. And pray for the Muslim Brotherhood. Prayers are magic.

God bless the Muslim Ummah.

Egyptian military helicopters trailing national flags circled over Tahrir Square during a protest demanding that Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi resign in Cairo

 

Reference:

http://news.sky.com/story/1128329/egypt-elbaradei-resigns-after-camp-massacre

http://www.france24.com/en/20130814-egypts-army-carrying-out-massacre-morsi-supporters

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/cairo-massacre-scores-killed-and-hundreds-more-injured-as-egyptian-government-declares-war-on-the-countrys-islamists-8760379.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/14/us-egypt-protests-reaction-idUSBRE97D0QD20130814

http://en.jasarat.com/world/morsi-supporters-massacre-by-army-widely-condemned-turkeys-gul-urges-un-arab-league-to-play-role-to-stop-carnage