This blog is best viewed with the latest browser and an open mind!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Max[x] Your Life

The TV stations were generally so-o-o-o bad, I hardly have any of them ON any more. The TV set is mainly used to watch DVDs that I often buy and often download.

There are, of course, places like Laraib here that do give me fairly new DVDs, dowloaded from the same sites that I could, too, if I had the time. In fact, now that I am older, I do have the time, so I download movies and documentaries and music stuff every day. Going to Laraib has now remained only when a friend from Bangladesh drops in and he goes to buy his selections. I buy a piece or two, myself, then.

There are so many great TV Channels round the world that we can't see, regardless of the various 'blackboxes' that we may get from one company to the next. 'Get a 100 channels in our box', says the company and you can get about 60 that are of no use, about 10 that are repeats, and the few that are left are ok-ish (though the language is wrong during the long advertisements in some).

I keep missing BBC … no, not the one we see here but BBC 1, BBC 2, BBC 3, BBC 4 , BBC 5 that I'd see in the UK. I miss ITV, entirely. And the lovely USA channels. And the beautiful Classical Music channels from around the world.

What about Netflix? What about the superb Video Series that are so much fun to watch? And what about the latest episodes of Scandal, Quantico, Downtown Abbey, and a zillion more. One has to download them after they've been released, cause Laraib will fill up a whole DVD before it releases it.

Then there's Radio. Of course we can get many channels on iTunes, but there are a hundred more. Pandora is brilliant, whether you are into Western or Eastern Music. I am into both ... but am in love with Pandora's Eastern Classical sets. Name an artist. Drop in the name. Listen to him or her. Wow! But what do I do in Pakistan? Its for outside this country so far.

There is, of course, the most wonderful YouTube that is also not allowed here. Oh to be able to see it on my larger TV station.


Ta-daa …


A few months ago, struggling with this problem, I bumped into a small shop that had the answer. The manager sold me a little Black Box for Rs 25,000 after I stayed with him and learnt everything about it in every way I could. He was not just wonderful, he was brilliant. So I got it and came home and plugged it in. And Voila!

Oh, once you've bought it, you never pay another amount to him.
Or to anyone.
Rs 25k gets you everything you want.

A small blackbox that has a light in front to say its ON. You put in a little dongle he gives you into the USB socket at the back. You plug it into the HDMI socket on your TV set. (If you don't have an HDMI socket you can use the RGB three socket, too - but its best to ask him. Some models have removed that now.) There's another USB socket at the back and you can add a USB or other Hard Disk there if its got movies and watch that, too. You connect the power supply. Switch on the box … and you are nearly on.

If you have an Internet WiFi, that's fine. Use it. But if you can actually get a cable from your Modem to physically get into the Ethernet port on this blackbox, its even slightly better.

Once you start, it warms up and then you have to set up the internet name and the password and wait. When you see Kodi on the screen, double click it (yes they give you a remote, too). It will get there and after a while it will read up and start adding stuff and connecting to the various things. You'll see that on your TV. Once that it done, you are on!

Click the TV settings and there are hosts of channels waiting for you. Over a thousand so far and more being added. Choose one and watch them LIVE. Yes LIVE. wherever they are.

Select a Movie/TV-Video link, like Genesis, and go …

Find a film. Millions of them there. I watched 1918 Silent Film there yesterday. Click the name ≥ but a choice is that when a whole list of channel names drop down choose item 4 or 5 first. All the top ones are generally busy if its a new film. The film loads. Go ahead and watch it.

Find A TV Serial, say Law and Order : Special Victims Unit. All 17 seasons are there. Choose one. Choose an episode. Click. Then choose the 4th or 5th item. Go!

Looking for the latest? Like you've just missed Martian that was in our Cinemas, recently. It's there. 


Get a YouTube channel on the list and use a free proxy. Watch anything you want on your TV from that channel. There's Vimeo and more, too.

Radio? Tons to choose from. SoundCloud and more. No limits. Add Google. Can be useful. Google Maps also make sense on a large screen. And the Weather on the top left tells you what its like outside your air-conditioned room.



OK ... I don't know if what I've said makes sense to you, but here's a number: +92-300-297-9065; call him. Tell him you'd like to see and buy SatMaxx if you find its worth it. He'll give you his shop's address. Go there. Come back smiling. And never ever miss anything from now. 

Mention my blog, if you like,
and he will take a little extra care!


If you have a 3D TV there are loads of movies for you to see. And, as I said earlier, there are many other movie sites that are also visible. Nothing is banned. The chwais is yours …


Good viewing!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 08, 2015

When our beloved people die …

These are my views. You may agree or not.

Yesterday we had a ruling about Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Salman Taseer. It was supported by most people in the media. This included many (including me) who oppose the death penalty and want him to get an un-parolable life sentence. Think of it: killing is an act of just a few minutes. And then he's dead. It shows human emotions that makes the Government murder a person — which is not really different from what the criminal did.

A long life sentence is something that is going to teach the murderer (all the time) about not just another man's life and the tragedy he caused the man's wife, children, friends, and followers … it will also make him think of his own wife and children. They, in fact, did nothing wrong and maybe someone needs to give them some help in ways to live.

Add to this, if you are pro-death, to the difficulties and the problems we have in our laws and how we frame and get people, often for the wrong reasons, denounced as criminals. Happens frequently. Just think of Aasiya Bibi, right now! I think the courts should move ahead and pardon her. To hang an innocent person is far worse …

But I also thought of ways beyond this murder.

What does the State (or the Government of that time that we have 'contracted' to run the State until the next elections) do when a person dies or is killed or gives up his/her life in a battle or war? How does it make sure that these people are honoured for a long time and our children and their children read about them or talk about them?

Nothing, really!

Let me tell you what we do: In the military circles many roads are named after such heroes … which is right. After all it was one of them who gave up his life fighting hard for the lives of the rest of us. His colleagues and his juniors honour him. He joined the forces, knowing that this was a risk he was taking. I feel sorry for his family, too. And their amazing courage.

Often, though, many main roads in the cities are named after them. I move around Karachi a lot …and go to Lahore, often. I can't recognise more than a couple of names and what they did. I ask young people in Lahore and they say so-and-so is a 'Shaheed', but they don't know which war with India he fought. I was also told that one person died in our 'war with Russia', when I knew that was not true.  Incidentally, how many main roads are named after war heroes? Take a look at this page, for example, and see. And you can find many others, too.

There's also a lot more that we miss out on.

Take the murders of Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Sabeen Mahmud, and may more. If the Government wants us to remember them, how about naming the places where they were murdered linked to their names. A Memorial Square, maybe? Perhaps with a link to their websites written on a stone under it … for the young go their often. Let them see what honest people, doing honest and respectable things, were killed for. By whom, too, if we really know.

A Salman Taseer Roundabout or a Shahbaz Bhatti Avenue shouldn't be too difficult. The Sabeen Mahmud Square - at the place where she was shot - should be no problem, at all. In fact the latter would be put up by DHA/CBC and show that they care, too, about the things these people did for this country: their country and our country.

How about Postage Stamps? They go on our mails abroad and within Pakistan. Let's have their images on them. That should be an ideal follow-up to the series of those who helped make Pakistan and have images on stamps already. After all, these people were the ones who tried to keep Pakistan safe and better for many of us. In fact people around the world held services for them.

I'd love to see small paragraphs in our Pakistan Studies books? Books that children get bored of reading fairly soon may become more exciting when we have newer paragraphs on people they have seen. And one can keep changing these every few years to keep them updated.

Do you think we can do this?

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, September 25, 2015

Its all going to be online now …

Starting with my very first cartoons (and I mean my very first, coz I had never drawn one before) that started being published in The Friday Times, I did a few other things: A few cartoons for The News; A few Photos or Book Covers or Contents, suitably altered; a few Fake-Ads. And maybe a few more items.

Sadly, my dear friend, my adopted daughter, my mentee … and then my mentor, Sabeen Mahmud (Sab), is not here any more. And I can't even try to tell you how many of us feel about this. There are nothing but tears that flow out. Every few hours. Every day. And there are many silent sobs in between.

Sab had asked me to print quite a few of the cartoons and put them up at T2F for 3 days, beginning with my birthday. (I'll be 75 on the 2nd October this year). The cartoons & similar stuff is now being put up on Tooniyaat. If you go there, start with the oldest post (Howdy) and then move up. This way you'll get the chronological order in which they were published.

There was her idea of having me appear on a program at T2F, on the 2nd & 3rd October, where I'd be asked questions by her about my crazy life and crazier ideas. She mailed me a long list of questions that she'd ask. Yes, Sab. I will answer them, too, in Koee Mayday Dil Say Poochhay, a recent blog that I have started. The posts on these may be written, pod-casted, or video-casted.

Among things that Sab thought T2F would print some day would be my poetry book, and a collection of my father's stories, essays, and poems. My poems are now put up every Sunday, (though not in any chronological order). You can see them on Alam Zadah.

My father, Abi (or Azhar Kidvai), has a website now - and it is being added to every few days. It will have his entire collection, including all his verses in his own handwriting. There are some memories and some pictures, too.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Abi: 11.04.1900 - 19.09.1963

Azhar Kidvai was born in Rampur (India) on 11th April, 1900

My father, Abi is what I called him, was named Azhar Kidvai by his father (Safdar Ali). Abi was also named Khaaqaan Alam (many people had two names in the olden days), but he rarely used this name after he grew up. In Urdu his name (ازہر قدوائ) had a ز and not ظ. Why? Think of Jaamaé Al Azhar. It means another thing when you write it with ظ. In English it was spelt with a K instead of Q. Why? Because the name is Turkish. Kidvais are descendants of Kazi Kidva who was a Turkish Judge under King Baber's rule. There is no Q for ق. There's just a K. Think of Koran. Also, و is written as V in Turkish, not W. Here is an image of their full alphabet.

The W for و was added when Hindustani Transliteration took place … earlier than Turkish Transliteration. This changed و into a W, despite the fact that the pronunciation is that of V.

A picture from a London Collection of Family Logos.
I have this in my house now in wood and brass.
The Latin translated to English means "I shall not altogether die'.

his blogpost, 52 years after his death, is to tell you of a new website that I have started putting up.It will get ready in a week or two but there are enough things there for you to see.

He went to MAO (Aligarh School and College) and did a BA in English Literature. Was arrested for his political views by the Brits ruling India. Later, he became a Doctor, was a Major in the British Forces during the Second World War. He was also a poet, a writer of stories and essays, and a great lover of classical music (Indian and Western). He sang fairly well, but only among friends. He used to do a wonderful Scottish accent, after having passed his Medicine from Edinburgh. He lived and practiced in Monifieth, a small town in Scotland.

His father, Safdar Ali, did send him there but then refused to send him money, though he had a lot of it. Abi's life there was odd, because of a lack of funds. He eventually was put into hospital where one of his kidneys had to be removed. I heard this from his friends, while he was alive. I asked him and he said he would never have told me this, because it was "between me and my father". (His father died in Dacca several years after Abi's death.)

Abi was an Atheist in his early life, but eventually became a rather strong Muslim. In his last few years one could always see him with a tasbeeeh, reciting his words of faith. He said eight prayers every day: the five Farz many do, plus TahajjüdChaasht, and Ishraq. The last time he prayed was only a few minutes before his death.

Despite being a strong Muslim and reading several religious books, he also read extensively in English and Urdu — Fiction and Non-Fiction. He introduced the writers to me, just as he gave me my love of music.

A strong Congress-person, he decided that we'd stay in Delhi … but our house and his clinic were burnt down so he migrated to Pakistan on a temporary basis (in 1947). Dr. Syed Mahmud (my wife Nuzhat's naana) and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said to him that the troubles in Pakistan would end in 5-6 months and we'd be 'good neighbours later'. These things never happened and showed how little the Congress knew what lay ahead.

Abi died at the age of 63, after several repeated heart attacks over the years, heavy diabetes, a constant ringing in his ears, occasional faintings, and - finally - a brain haemorrhage at Anklesaria Clinic, Karachi. He seemed well as I saw him, arriving in Karachi the day before from my trip. Sadly I was on duty on the ship that night/morning and did not see him pass away.


1. Yaad Daasht

2. Links: A collection of my previous blogposts about him.

3. Stories that were written from 1928 onwards and were published as Nai Paod (نئ پود) in 1939, two years after he wrote his last playlet. The original cover and the inside page (Printed 1000 copies : Price Re 1), are also scanned and shown here.

These are followed by scans from his own handwriting.
(In some places it has not been possible to remove the paper lines.)

4. Ghazals, that were kept in a ruled booklet and named Parvaaz. 

5. Rübaais, Qit'aas, Nazms - which were filed under a small folder, called Parvaaz 2.

6. Humorous verses which Abi wrote under the takhallüs 'Shaikh Ji'. He put them in a separate collection, called Laghv Goi.

7. Tasveerayñ — a collection of some images. More will be added as I find them.


This collection is dedicated to Nuzhat, who constantly insisted that I must print Abi's works. She loved the idea that I was going to print it with scanned images as far as the poems were concerned. It is also co-dedicated to our daughter, Ragni Marea, who loved her grandfather's stories.

Sabeen Mahmud loved his stories that I read out to her. I also recited a few of his verses. She had one piece on her softboard in her office. She wanted me to publish his works, specially in his own writings, under T2F's planned idea of opening up a publishing unit. That never happened.

The collection is now on the Internet
where many will be able to read it.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, September 07, 2015

Bowled Over by Imran Khan!

A Picture of IK that caught Dr. Israr's attention.
Israr said that women should not be allowed
to watch a Cricket Match since
the bowlers actions
[s]excite them.
I loved IK when he was a Cricketer.
I hated him since he moved into politics.
I really couldn't stand his views on youths and women.
(Strangely, both vote for him.)

These quotes are from an old interview in
The Friday Times
(Jan 19-25, 1995)

Parliamentary System

Parliamentary system of democracy is nonsense. I am asked why I do not enter politics. I say that for a start I don't believe in getting into a system in which you have to pay exorbitantly to get elected. Secondly, this party system parliamentary democracy, this is just nonsense.The discipline of the party system means that sometimes you have to compromise, you have to lie in public. Therefore only a certain kind of personality is suited to this system and I cannot be part of it. I'm much better outside politics.

The current leaders haven't a clue which way they are taking us. Someone at the top has to set an example, and then be determined to set things straight. If you paid bureaucrats a better salary, for example, they would collect taxes. Their salaries are unrealistic in the first place. So they become corrupt. l don't want to talk about solutions, or what system would be best for the country because I don't want to get into politics. Every government has asked me to join them and I have always refused.

Karachi's Youths

The reason people here wear trousers and shirts is to show that they are a degree better than the common man. I am ashamed to see the upper class youth of Karachi, for instance. What relevance have they to Pakistan? If you left them in a village they would probably get lost.

The West & Us

Familly is their biggest weakness. Our strength is our family system. While I was in university I read Germaine Greer‘s "The Female Eunuch" and thought women‘s lib was right. I now realise that it's impractical.

[The women] are all on diets and half of them have anorexia. In discos, all the fat women sit on the side and get drunk and depressed.

If reducing clothes means progress then that should mean that the African tribes are very progressive!

I said [in an earlier interview] that having lived in the west I have seen its strengths and its weaknesses. Their strengths are. meritocracy, justice, human rights, and so on. Their weaknesses, their biggest threat. is the breakdown of the family. This is a direct consequence of immorality. Since the sex drugs and rock n roll revolution of the 60s, I myself have seen the breakdown of the family. And then women's lib, which has degraded the status of mother, they say why should we stay home and look after children when we can go out and work too. In other words, motherhood, which is looked up to in our culture, is nothing in the west. As a result their family life has broken down. When men and women both go out to work, soon there is a divorce. How is the home to be run? Degrading the mother's role plus sexual permissiveness has led to the mess that the west is in right now.

l would like to see women have all the rights given to them by Islam. ln my view, men and women are equal but different. What western women's lib is trying to prove is that they‘re the same. They're trying to compete with men. This was never meant to be, it was a complimentary role and never a competitive role. The biggest damage that women's lib has done is to destroy the family. All my friends in the west are divorced.

Men & Women

Men and women are supposed to have complimentary roles, the basis of which is that only women can be mothers. A man cannot change nappies. It is not possible for a man to manage a house. If a woman wants to pursue a career then she shouldn't have children. If you want to have children. then you have to have a woman at home. One has to provide and one has to look after the kids and it cannot be the man who looks after the kids!


The limits of freedom have gone too far. For instance, I disagree with gays getting married. This is against the norms of civil society.


The problem here is that the weak are oppressed, not women in particular, that is all lies. When Veena Hayat was raped the government almost fell, but when a poor woman is raped, no one cares. Think about the poor man whose wife is raped. imagine what he goes through! 


Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, September 04, 2015

Congrats Beaconhouse!

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I loved these books …

My first book is for diehard graphics fans and I wouldn't recommend this to you if you are not one. Called On The Great War, it is a 24-page long Graphic Panorama.

Who'd do this? Joe Sacco, of course. Some of you may have seen him at the Lahore Literary Festival. He is brilliant. There is an interesting piece, July 1, 1916 by Adam Hochschild and the book has annotations by Joe Sacco.

Joe Sacco has always been among my favourite cartoonists and I have most things that I could get my hands on by him. I was glad to get Bumf Vol. 1 this time. Ask T2F in Karachi or The Last Word in Lahore, if you want it … but be careful for it has nudes and sex in it. (This means that if you are under 16, you'll have to ask an older brother to get it for you!)

Here's the cover: Nixon saying he is Barack Obama
One could never ever trust him!

The essays are hilarious and so is the beautiful back cover,
called "I will make you fishers of men".

OK ... that's two books of Joe Sacco. But there was another superb one (also from T2F/TLW) by several cartoonists and graphics specialists. It's a Graphic History of Bohemians.

Obviously its called Bohemians.

I love reading about them and found this to be a great collection, taking a lot of salient features and putting them together in one book. It is co-edited by Paul Buhle who also co-edited The Beats, if you remember. I'd written about that once. Several artists drew that, too, and their gorgeous works are all over the book.

Just to remind you, here is a page from it:

I loved the beat guys and was an ardent follower in my old hippie days. I am still a hippie at heart, even now.

So go and get these … and enjoy!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Climate Changed: A graphic book you must read!

I just got this two days ago and can't put it down.

If you have an interest in this topic,
you must get this book.

If you have no interest in this topic,
you must get this book.

The book has Science and Facts
made easy for you to understand.

Its also a great graphic faction.

Covers the matter from the beginning of time
till now … and the future.

Features the leading figures in the area.

Well worth a read!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, August 15, 2015

14th-15th August 1947

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, July 17, 2015

Why are you not here?

For years it was Sab who always visited us on Eed in the early morning, dressed in her kurta and chu∂idaar paejaama.

She got her usual Eedi from us and, on most occasions, got an extra gift from me: Almonds that she adored, chocolates she loved, or a book she really wanted to read.

Tomorrow will the first of my Eeds without her. I will visit her grave, visit her Amma and her Nani.

Sadly, this is going to happen every Eed for as long as I live.

Sabeen, you know how much I loved you. And always will.

Your laughter continues ringing in my ears.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

… and here's another blog that's just been added.

This one contains my poems.
Urdu, mainly. Perhaps a few idiotic ones in English.
I'll add a few as I type them in Urdu on my iMac.
Take a look.
Come back for more as they are added.
They are not in Chronological Order.
I've found most of them in various papers, envelope backs,
wedding card backs, and in a couple of diaries.
They range from when I was 18 … up to today.

Take a look at another blog …

This blog will continue, of course.
But there is another blog I have started.

Visit it and see if you like the stuff there.


Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Tomb of Mian Ghulam Husain Kalhoro

I met Marvi Mazhar, a young Architect, via Sabeen Mahmud. She phoned me to say there was an event at Mian Ghulam Husain Kalhoro's Tomb in Hyderabad and I should go there with her. Its been a long time since I went to Hyderabad so I decided to go.

The trip was really amusing, specially seeing the expanse of Bahria complexes built via Malik Riaz. Huge. And a Funland area that has the Seven Wonders of the World repeated through large scaled constructions. No one lives there, yet, for it is all under construction. But on the way back we saw the place lit up by thousands of lights. Wow. I wish Malik Riaz would add some of his lights on to the highway, too, and make it a lot easier for the traffic.

It was a really great visit, not counting the driver sleeping on the way back and hitting a truck — but that just delayed the drive back after some 'adjustments' to the car :)


Just in case you don't know who the Mian Ghulam Husain is, let me give you a brief background — taken from the works of S. Z. LariH. Cousens, and a few other documents:

Once this was the Tomb of Ghulam Husain

Ghulam Husain, one of the most powerful heads of the Kalhora Dynasty, ruled Sindh, which, at that time, was a part of Ahmad Shah Durrani's Afghan empire. His rule started in 1762, when his position was confirmed by royal decree. He was awarded the Title of Shah Wardi Khan.

Between 1762 and 1765 he led three decisive campaigns against the Maratha Rao of Kutch and received the Title of Samsam-ud-Daolah (The Sword of the State). He was also given a portion of Dera Ghazi Khan for his role against the rebellions of of the Derahs in the North.

In 1762 Ghulam Husain built the Mausoleum of the famous Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, a Sufi poet and the Patron Saint of Sindh. 

He also established the city of Hyderabad, built upon the foundations of Neeron Kot, and set it up as the new capital of the Kalhora Dynasty. It is marked by Pacco Qillo (The Strong Fort) that became one of the largest military garrisons in the region.

Pacco Qillo


Ghulam Husain's tomb is supposedly one of the oldest surviving buildings in Hyderabad and is part of a large collection of the graves of various Kalhora rulers.

For more info about him, please read this section.


Having thought that many people would have come there often, I was surprised to find that there were a number of people in Hyderabad who had come there for the first time to attend the event that was arranged by EFT (its full name being Endowment Fund Trust for Preservation of Heritage in Sindh).

Here are some pictures from the place

Hamid Akhund opening the event

Looking out

Looking in

The Front

A closer look

 The right side of the tomb

A piece from the tomb

The Women's Graveyard

One of the graves outside the tomb

Hamid Akhund introduces the event and invites guests

Marvi Mazhar speaks to the audience

All the board members were there, with Nafisa Shah heading the ceremony. There were many architects, bankers, financiers, and students who spoke. All the speeches were in Urdu, except one that was in Sindhi. Among guests was another friend and Architect, Zain Mustafa.

The board has a lot of money and is trying hard to renovate all the marvellous sites in Sindh. Its a long process. Very difficult, too, to remove the stuff that's been painted on the old stuff, graffiti to be removed, things brought back - as far as it is possible - to the old style again.

Take a chance.
Go and see this, and lot of other places in Sindh.

Oh … and there were Public Toilets (in Pink) near the Tomb.

We were finally taken to Iftar/Dinner at the Commissioner's house. He is the youngest Commissioner in Pakistan. The house was a bit of a bore (built 1950) after the marvellous site we had seen, but the Sindhri Mangoes were great at Iftar.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Can Muslims drink Alcohol according to Qur'an?

Quite often I am puzzled by the Muslims who drink saying that the Qur'an does not state that Drinking is Haraam. I am not sure if the word Haraam describes the highest form of bad things, and I am no scholar of Arabic. So I just go back to my usual arguments … and I see no way one can get out of them.

There are three major verses in the Qur'an about Drinking on Earth. Yes, there are verses, too, about Drinking in Heaven (where it will be allowed - but in a different form) but we won't get into those. Let us look at them:

1. Praying while Drunk:
"O you who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when you are drunken, till you know that which you utter …" (4. An-Nisa: 43).
The most important part of a Muslim rule - praying 5 times in a day - is ordered to be given up, if the Muslim is drunk. I'd assume that the majority of Muslims I know would rather not drink than give up their prayers.

2. Strong Drink being Satan’s Handiwork:
"O you who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed." (5. Al Ma' edah: 90).
Even here, apart from it being a work of the worst of God's Creation, Satan, the "Leave it aside” part is not just a recommendation … if you want to succeed. And who doesn’t?

But let's get to the important verse about Drinking and Gambling. It's Verse 219 of the 2nd Surah, Al-Baqarah. This is the verse we must use when we discuss the Drinking of Alcohol.

In Pakistan (and India) one argument one hears from believing Muslims - (who drink, and read the Qur'an translation in Urdu) - is that the verse says 

O Prophet, people ask you about laws on (Alcoholic) Drinks and Gambling.
Tell them that there is a huge disadvantage and some advantage. 
But the disadvantages are much greater than the advantages.

Such a ‘bad' translation from the Arabic!

Someone tried to ‘oppose' the word
فائدہ (=advantage) with
نقصانات (=disadvantage).

Nüqsaanaat or Nüqsaan is not in the verse at all.

 The words actually are:
إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ 
إِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ
(= Günaahé Kabeerah)
Meaning: A Grave Sin.

Take a look at the English Translations from several people.

002:219 Khan 
They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit." 
002:219 Maulana 

They ask thee about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them is a great sin and (some) advantage for men, and their sin is greater than their advantage. 
002:219 Pickthal 

They question thee about strong drink and games of chance. Say: In both is great sin, and (some) utility for men; but the sin of them is greater than their usefulness. 
002:219 Rashad 

They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, "In them there is a gross sin, and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit." 
002:219 Sarwar 

(Muhammad), they ask you about wine and gambling. Tell them that there is great sin in them. Although they have benefits for men, the sin therein is far greater than the benefit. 
002:219 Shakir 

They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. 
002:219 Sherali 

They ask thee concerning wine and games of chance. Say 'In both there is great sin and harm and also some advantages for men, but their sin and harm are greater than their advantage,' 
002:219 Yusuf Ali 

They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit."


Shall we Drink to that?

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, June 29, 2015

Moving backwards …

When we had a little quarrel among people in our offices, Sab, you and I would call the two persons and ask them to talk to each other, discuss the problems, and go away as friends. It always worked.


When you put up T2F you decided that everyone should talk. No violence. No gaali-galoch. No lies that harmed others. People should become friends even if they retain their views. Many of them became friends. Even the ones who disliked you, once, discussed their views with you and also became your friends.

See. It worked again. 

People came. Listened. Accepted or argued. They left, not always as friends but, at least, willing to hear the other points of view. Some even changed a small amount. 


Now you've gone.


Some people say they want to do things the way you did. And yet they are not talking, not allowing people to discuss, not being straight forward, lying, pretending to do things but actually doing something else, moving friends apart, being hypocritical - all of the things you hated.


What a pity! 

I'll miss you forever.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sab: See what a friend says. Twice.

Jawwad Farid wrote these lovely pieces

The first was written following Sab's assassination

Karachi is an insane city. A true Karachiite can never live anywhere else. A visitor can never understand why that is so.  The fascination is irrational and does not compute. Some think it is an asylum gone wild, others feel that the patients have taken over the administration.

Sabeen Mahmud was the head of our administration, the chair person of our union, the flag bearer of our mental asylum. In a crazy city designed for crazy people, Sabeen was our wildest flame. If she captured you in her orbit, it wouldn't be long before you would be wearing that crazy gleam in your eyes. 

When the city went mad in 2007, Sabeen and Zaheer Kidvai came up with The Second Floor (T2F). When you had more than your daily dose of work, family, neighbors, KESC, traffic and Karachi, you could escape to T2F to listen to Tee-M sing Suji Ka Halwa or play Jazz, expose your musical ear to some exotic qawali or equally exotic drinks. T2F was the only drinking hole in town where you could hear Muhammad Hanif read a case of exploding mangoes, in a cozy, intimate, friends only evening. It was a space for Karachi's citizens. An oasis of sanity in a city filled with angry men and women, bearded, mustached and otherwise.

I had heard of Sabeen, we had met a few times but it was only when I saw T2F in 2007, that I realized that Sabeen was just as crazy as the rest of us. Only a certifiably insane person would try and feed a dose of culture to these wild Karachiites or put up a reading library next to a kitchen. 

Boy, did we lap it up. T2F became the place you would go to when you had some time to kill, when you were thirsty for a green apple chiller or a corned beef sandwich, when you wanted to feel normal; the normal one can only feel when surrounded by like minded fools and fruit cakes. And because of Sabeen and T2F's magic, because of her orbit, because of the mad gleam in the eyes, there was never any shortage of fruit cakes.

T2F was my space, our space, Sabeen's space.  A corner where you went for a bit of quiet and a dose of hope.

But T2F and feeding Karachi culture was the sanest of Sabeen's idea. She had quite a few that were really out there.  From taking back the city and the country from angry bearded men who favor burqahs on fashionable occasions and photo opportunities;  to giving voice to those who would never be heard otherwise. Her most remarkable contribution was testing the thesis that a politician can only be born and associated with a political party and a lineage going all the way back to the British, the CIA, our feudal lords or the Army.

She joined hands with a young lawyer from Karachi who became a test case for proving the established political thesis wrong.  He lost the local elections in May 2013 but gave us hope that a quite young man can change our city; one day perhaps even our country.

Mohammad Jibran Nasir was certainly a big step for Karachiites but the real payoff for Sabeen's many friends were her Facebook conversations.  To say that Sabeen was politically active is an understatement.  She was self professed anarchist and experience junkie and she really believed in spreading and sharing that message. Her recent experiences side by side with Jibran made for entertaining, sometimes scary reading.  From taking on the Lal Masjid gang in Islamabad to getting arrested in Karachi; from organizing events, protesting at rallies and dharnas, attending jalsas and commentating on both organizational abilities and content of parties irrespective of their ideology. Boldly going with Amma, to places, locations and events where I wouldn't dare to go without four double cabins.  From death threats that were not funny to distasteful verbal abuse that was shrugged off and turned into Facebook posts and jokes; most memorably her running commentary on one exceedingly handsome heartbroken police javaan, off do-talwar; and of things that could have been, but will never be. 

I didn't consider myself a friend of Sabeen, because I didn't do anything to earn that title. I loved her work, her intellect, her curiosity and her stance. I admired her wicked sense of humor and her desire to question overzealous authority and self righteousness. We had great conversations on political king makers in the city.   To me she was a symbol of what this city could be if my fellow fruit cakes took it over.  In a town where everyone talks in double speak, where empty grand expressions use cheap lyrics from Bollywood songs, where we invoke the depth of oceans and the height of mountains at every opportunity we get, Sabeen spoke plainly and simply.   

6 years ago, post a conference that we both spoke at, Sabeen said, "You made me cry two days in a row Jawwad Farid."

Right back at you, Sabeen Mahmud.

Ps. Don't give Steve a hard time about Cook's follies. 

The second was written after Sab's funeral

I think she had the most fun today, she had had in a while.
Sabeen Mahmud, a fluent speaker of colloquial French in many languages, would have had a field day with words today.  Starting off with "the bastards never showed up in such large numbers when I was alive".

The second floor was an amazing sight this afternoon. As soon as Zaheer Kidvai posted that Sabeen would come one last time to T2F to say farewell at half past three, a crowd started gathering outside.  

There was no way to describe the mix at 5th Sunset Lane this afternoon. In attendance were beards and wild hair, lefties and righties, two little girls with small handmade placards, three babies carried by their dads, young men and women; guests from Lahore; clean shaved teenagers, sons and daughters; silver grandmothers dressed in white; grayed grandfathers with their walking sticks; founding members of the original men and women student congress that ran the first civil resistance campaign in our history in the fifties and the sixties.

Sabeen bound all of us together.  That was her magic. We were her lost cause.

Also flowers, tears and silence.

We parked without getting in each other's way; we left in a procession of cars aligned in a single file. 

When she finally came to Sunset Lane on her way to the Masjid, we walked with her to T2F and back one last time.  

Sabeen was buried in a tree line graveyard by her family and her friends, this evening. We stood still, row upon rows of men and women, underneath neem trees with our silent goodbyes. 

Shahjahan said it, "I am not crying for her."

I brought my son with me. Told him I want you to remember this day, this crowd standing around, alive yet still; I want you to remember the grief, your father crying in the open in front of a thousand men.  Don't you forget that silence has a price that we have already paid.  

"Ulloo ke pathon kee tarha itnay saal se hum sarkon par nikaltay rahay haen. For every marginalized, oppressed group. And for years, people have mocked us and laughed at us for our small numbers. You doubted our motives. You questioned our agendas. You bastards. If you had joined us, we wouldn't have been so pitiable. We would have had a movement by now. We would have had strength in numbers. But no, you sat behind the comfort of your monitors and made fun of us on Twitter and Facebook and in your newsrooms. You said, give us something new. Give us something different. Theater karnay thoree nikaltay haen hum aap logon ko khush karnay ke liye. Maana ke Press Club ke baahar kharay honay se kucch naheen badalta laykin jo aek se aek aqlmand haen aap log, jo tanqeed karnay mayn itnay tez haen, yaar aap log kahaan they? Sind Club se fursat ho tau kabhee aa jaen aap log bhee, koee innovative soch le kar jo shaed aap ke Harvard aur Columbia ke professors ne sikhaee ho aap ko. Ya kiya aap ke mummy daddy aap ko nikalnay naheen dayn ge?"  

Sabeen Mahmud, March 2014.

— a Translation —
For years, like idiots we have been protesting on the streets. For every marginalized, oppressed group. And for years, people have mocked us and laughed at us for our small numbers. You doubted our motives. You questioned our agendas. You bastards. If you had joined us, we wouldn't have been so pitiable. We would have had a movement by now. We would have had strength in numbers. But no, you sat behind the comfort of your monitors and made fun of us on Twitter and Facebook and in your newsrooms. You said, give us something new. Give us something different. We are not in it to put on a show for your benefit or pleasure. Understood that protesting outside Press Club in Karachi is not going to change anything but where were you when we needed you; the intelligent ones, the so quick to criticize crowd. If you could find some time from your busy schedule at Sind Club, please join us, with your innovative ideas, ideas that your Harvard and Columbia professors may have taught you. Or is that your mummy daddy won't let you come outside and play.  

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,