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Saturday, June 30, 2007

No Comment

Former member of the Islamic Ideology Council of Pakistan Haji Mohammad Haneef Tayyib [said]: “After the 1965 war, Indian General Arorah visited Pakistan. During his visit, the general met Maulana Mawdudi. Arorah told him that he didn’t understand why so many Pakistanis had survived the war, especially since Lahore had been bombed so heavily. Mawdudi asked Arorah what he thought was the reason. ‘Our fighter pilots reported that whenever they tried to bomb Lahore, they saw a saint catch the bombs in his green kameez,’ Arorah told him.” Such miracles have been mentioned in the Holy Quran and hadith, but [because they] are not found in textbooks in school and colleges[,] “The new generation is skeptical of this knowledge,” lamented Jamiat ul Madina Hadith Teacher Maulana Asad Madni. Madni quoted an incident of Syedna Ghousul Azam, a saint buried in Baghdad. Azam was once addressing a very large crowd when it began to rain heavily. He is said to have looked at the sky and said: “All these people are here to glorify You. The rain is bothering them.” After which, rain fell everywhere but over the crowd. Read full story in Daily Times and weep.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The government's enlightened rep speaks

Storm Allah's wrath over obscenity: CM

KARACHI - Chief Minister Sindh, Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim on Monday termed the weekend storm and resulting loss of lives and property as wrath of Almighty Allah against commonplace obscenity in the society. He expressed his regrets over loss of lives and property because of weekend storm accompanied with rains and said that falling of sign boards in large number was wrath of Almighty Allah as the same contained ‘obscene pictures of women.’ In a press statement, the CM said each company has installed signboards in the provincial capital with ‘lewd’ pictures of women for publicity of their products, which was in violation of Islam and Sharia and a shame for an Islamic society. “I do consider thunderstorm as wrath of Allah against this immoral and un-Islamic act,” Dr Rahim declared.
Of course, the billboards - complete with the lewd pics - will be resurrected now. The people who became collateral damage by being buried under them will be resurrected much much later. Sounds a trifle unfair, if you ask me...

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pervez Hoodbhoy, SuperStar

One problem of being associated with T2F is that I have been hesitant to blog about the events too frequently, lest it be seen as a 'plug' for Sabeen's café-plus-mind_share_space. but I guess it's ok as long as I stick to the event and make it anecdotal and talk less of the ambience. In fact, I think I'll try and recap some of the earlier events in my next few post[s], since there's an audience outside of Karachi that may enjoy hearing about them, too. OK. So, this one's about the recent talk by Pervez Hoodbhoy, part of a monthly series to be hosted at T2F under the title Science ka Adda (SKA from now on on this blog). You can read more about the series at the site, so lemme move on. The space, usually laid out café-style, seats 44 ... though events have always required creating more room by moving things around. Tee-M's 60's rock evening and Saad's OpenMic night shot the audience to around 100±. But that was to be expected. It's a 'Pop' world. However, Pervez Hoodbhoy's audience surpassed both evenings. While his youthful looks still draws sighs from young girls (I heard two that night!), the majority was there for the love of the subject. You may wish to watch a small-sized QT-based slideshow featuring that evening's guests ... or prefer to click the image above to see the crowd, made up of young and old, artists, singers, dancers, architects, writers, conservative, rebellious, religious, atheists, fundos, freethinkers, doctors and students. Wow! Yes, Science can be fascinating, if the issues are seen in the context of our lives, away from the technical, jargon-filled research that most of us realize is essential but find incomprehensible. Like many who attended, I am certainly looking forward to hearing others - after PH's illuminating talk (From Quarks to Humans) on the Origins of the Universe and his 'attempts' to answer a range of questions. We need to have public discussions on Science and Ethics (questions of Stem-Cell research, Genetic Manipulation, Gender Manipulation, Euthanasia, GM Foods --- all are in the news these days) and a lot more. BTW, when I said PH's attempts at answering questions, I was in no way implying that he was unable to do so for lack of knowledge. Some - on the more specific technical areas - required more time (and, a few were answered post-talk in small groups); others - such as those grounded purely on religious dogma - require an eternity and a more tolerant society. For those who lingered on after the event for their own friendly discussions, over coffee and snacks, there was a special treat:

The fabulous Tina Sani decided to delight her self-confessed-fan Pervez and the rest with an impromptu rendition of Rabba Sachcheya - one of my favourites. The absence of any intrusive musical accompaniment made it all the more beautiful for me. I captured it on a small handheld recorder and sent the file to her last night, seeking permission to share it on my blog. This what she sent by SMS today: "Seriously? What Fun! It's Faiz ... Let it roll!" Thanks, Tina. Oh, and Sheema, since you are at these evenings often, don't forget to carry ghungroos in your purse the next time :-)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Aaaargh, Heeheehee & Wailing time, folks

Ok, so I've been catching up on some of the less-frequented blogs on my bookmarks list. We are all aware that extreme positions and intolerance rule the world. Yes, Will, "men have lost their reason". But some have lost it more than others. Blogger Michael informs his readers that The Vatican has blacklisted Amnesty International. Here's the relevant quote from his post.

The Vatican has urged all Catholics to stop donating money to Amnesty International. Why you might ask, would the Catholic Church do such a thing? Have amnesty been embezzling charitable donations? Have they been found guilty of wide scale child abuse? No, don’t be silly. Amnesty have simply stated that they are in “support of abortion for women when their health is in danger or human rights are violated, especially in cases of rape or incest.”
I wonder if the decision was taken unanimously when the goup of sixty-nine bishops (lovingly known as VAT 69) met last. OK ... but while the Vatican is at one end of the spectrum, this other church is a gasser! Moving on ... Bush’s nominee for surgeon general, Dr. James Holsinger, has argued that homosexuality is a disease that can be cured. Stephen Colbert takes him on, while comment-writer ctbrandon has this to say: Anyways, I am glad someone is working on a cure for gayness. Now if we could just get a cure for being black, poor, or non christian, this country could get back to being the nation of freedom that we once were!!!! :-) And, of course, many blogs are beginning to comment upon 'The Rushdie Affair - Part 2' (soon to be made into a movie called A Knight to Remember). This act by the Queen promises more violence, political opportunism, idiocy and outrageous statements like the one justifying suicide bombing made (and, later, denied) by - as the BBC refers to him - "Mr. Ul Haq". (The 'loo' is silent!). To be fair to him, withdrawal is part of the governing team's strategy. Right now I wish that someone else whose image often haunts my mind had practiced it.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

The forgotten ZAB

The initials, since Mr Bhutto's arrival on the scene in Pakistan, became his ... for his audience was far wider. But the ZAB to whom I am referring was Z A Bokhari, Radio Pakistan's first Director General. He was the younger brother of the more well-known and amazing Patras - a mixed blessing that earned ZAB the unenviable nickname (Ghalat Bokhari) among friends.

ZAB was an enigmatic person. A fascinating conversationalist, he was disliked by many for his blunt remarks that often balanced precariously on the wall between rudeness and witticism. I am amazed at not being able to find any photos or enough references to him on the internet to share with you. Being in Lahore at the moment, I am also not in possession of my own resources among which, I am sure, I would find a picture or two. I had requested his daughter (wife of Mr Hakim Ali Zardari), during a chance meeting in the early 90s, to help me with the compilation of his works. Sadly, I could not follow this up because of the turmoil in Karachi that followed and the project was shelved. Guess I need to find a link to her again ...

Apart from Bokhari sahab's barbed wit and brilliant conversation, his theatrical recitations, dramatic and powerful voice, and unmatched rendering of marsiaas, what really fascinated me about him was his superb poetry that, too, seems to have received far less attention than it deserved.

Lost, also (since no trace of it seems to exist in Radio Pakistan, unless they just ignored my request for it), is the delightful rendering by some unknown singer of his ghazal with the matla':

güzree hae üsee tarah bahaar abkay baras bhee
ho gee nah bahaaroñ mayñ shümaar abkay baras bhee

What reminded me most of ZAB, recently, was a ghazal of his I which I often recite to friends. It is as hasbé haal as can be. Here is a shayr of his from another ghazal (recited at one of the Ghalib Centenary tarahee mushaeraas) that makes an apt preamble to the themes in the ghazal I shall treat you to:

shahr vaalo, maeñ payambar nah vali thaa, laykin,
maeñ nay jo küchh bhi kahaa ho kay rahaa mayray baad


So, without further ado, dear readers,
here iz ZAB, in his own voice.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Kreative Kids

Thanks, Kids of Class IIIA, fBSS Hyderabad, for these really lovely gifts you've sent. They are cherished more than you imagine. Click for an enlarged view.

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