Thursday, 19 June 2014

VisDare: Restoration

A chilling scream breaks out and I whirl around and spot her, her chubby face contorted with horror, her mouth gaping wide. I rush to her and steer her away from the madness, from death.
"What's wrong with them?" She whispers beneath sobs. "Mommy and daddy," I reply and my voice catches in my throat. I don't know how to tell her, but she guesses. The intensity of her wails increase.
What do you say to six-year old? I can't tell her it'll be okay. Because it will never be okay. It'll never be the same. The tears will stop, yes. But like a dried up river, they will leave a meandering scar on your heart; of how things were and how they could be. 
I hold her close as she sobs and screams and finally weeps silently, exhausted and helpless. I can't 'fix' things for her, for us. But I can avenge. A plan forms.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

S.O.S.: Satisfaction vs. Ambition

Photo by Saad Ibrahim
(Please don't use)

Since time immemorial we have been subjected to two seemingly dichotomous trains of thought. One that portrays satisfaction as the highest spiritual goal. And the other that regards ambition as the front runner of development. To believe in these two ideologies simultaneously is very much like running while standing still. And yet, everyone seems blissfully unaware of this fact, and continues to tell themselves that they are satisfied as well as ambitious. So today I'll leave you with this thought.
We strive for satisfaction. Day in and day out, all our hard work is done to achieve this utopian state of complete contentment. But the more we have the more we crave. For satisfaction is a mirage. Just like a thirsty traveller in a desert spots water just over the sand dune, we see the end to our wanderings at the next job, the next gadget, the next luxury. And just like the water, it vanishes as soon as our worn feet tread to its edge. Ambition, on the other hand, drives us forward. It lures us with the prospect of finding water ahead along with a small cottage and maybe a camel? We tread and tread thinking we have a definite plan until one day the realization hits. Satisfaction is an illusion. And ambition the fuel that propels us towards this illusion. 

What are your thoughts on the dichotomy between satisfaction and ambition? Which one do you prefer? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

S.O.S: Letting off some steam

Introducing Speak Out Sunday (or S.O.S) to voice opinions that might be different than your average Jane Doe's. You can contribute to the discussion by commenting or posting responses on your blog and leaving a link in the comments. 
Oh and don't worry, flash fiction and poetry will soon resume, (hopefully next week). Until then...

 Letting off some steam
Religion is a response to revelation, and different people respond to revelation differently.”
-John Green
This article, in its entirety, stems from two things. The above mentioned quote and my personal dissatisfaction (which I am sure is echoed by millions) of the inherent stereotypes that emerge from my religious belief.
The purpose of writing this article is not to explain Islam. There are people who can do that task infinitely better. The purpose of this article is to examine the prevalent ideology that associates Muslims to a monolithic people, where all one billion of us are answerable for the crimes of handful. I said Muslims and not Islam because Islam is monolithic. It's principles are articulated in the Holy Quran and are supplemented by the ahadith. It is us, the followers, whose varying interpretations is the root of all the trouble. The religion teaches us peace, I can assure you of that and so can countless other scholars. But we can't ignore the constant bombardment of verified and unverified news that accuse our religion for the problems of the world. Because there are people out there who claim to be pure Muslims and who capture, murder, torture in the name of Islam. Because there are people out there who profess a love for Allah and in lieu of that love, demean, devastate and destroy the lives of others. But at the same time, there are us Muslims, present in various stratas of a fragmented society, who live an ordinary life, trying to wrap our head around the fact that our every move is being publicly scrutinized. That there are some people who attest that they are fighting for us, for our rights and our freedom, even though we have never asked for a war and they have never consulted us about the same. It is us who live a life of constant fear. It is us who are discriminated every day. It is us who are tagged as terrorists, the only evidence being our recitation of the shahada. It is us who have to endure the public denigration of our religion. It is us who suffer for the crimes of others. And it is their understanding of Islam that is unanimously considered the only one. And so I ask you a question. What is it that validates their interpretation of Islam? What is it that legitimizes their definition and negates ours? Is it because they manage to make it to the headlines every day? Or is it because the rest of us, consciously or unconsciously, keep out of them?
We can continue to harp about the true principles of Islam. We can write article after article enunciating our beliefs. Or we can act. Open up counter organisations, orphanages, NGOs, relief camps and schools. The bottom line is, we have to fight for the true identity of our religion. We have to transform the image of jihad from murdering innocents to saving millions.
The internet already overflows with arguments against terrorist outfits. A curious person is free to research and form his own conclusions. But the masses, who either don't have the time or the energy to expend on this long (and confusing) process, whose only source of enlightenment is the media, would forever remain ignorant of this other and significant fraction of us. There are many muslims who have done and try to do great deeds for the world. But they have failed to garner attention for the simple reason that the rest of us find faults in them. Astagfirullah, we shout, she claims she knows about her deen! Look at her make-up infested face. He will guide us to the right path? His clothes are western. You have only read the translation of Quran and that permits you to question the scholars? Exile him. He is not a Muslim. And so it proceeds. From what you wear, to the fact that you choose to converse in English can bring the wrath of the community upon you. Instead of praising the deeds said person has done, we chide, rebuke and humiliate him or her for the slightest of flaws.*If we can not stand together, we have lost the right to blame 'external forces' for driving us apart. We have to realize that if we want respect for our religion and for ourselves, we first have to learn to respect others. And I am not talking only about Muslims, but the people at large. We need to 'agree to disagree' with those of differing opinions. We need to stop threatening people with hell fire and respect their choices.* After all, we are no one to judge. If we are desirous of gaining honour, we should be ready to honour too.
So this entire rant boils down to one thing. And it is a solemn cry to all the people of this world. Learn to respect. And also research before forming an opinion. Debate instead of argue and love instead of hate. Maybe its not too late yet.

*P.S. I am not advocating a society where we stay mum to those who promote inherently wrong beliefs (read: justifying stealing, murder or rape)(oh and bombs). I envision a society where baseless allegations are replaced by an intelligent discourse, where a different opinion is met by an engaging discussion and not the “you-will-go-to-hell” phrase that thrives in both the cyber and the real world.

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