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Friday, January 15, 2010

Asim Butt - What have you done?

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Anand Patwardhan - Revisited

Anand Patwardhan made several excellent films, including War & Peace. Parts were shot on both sides of the Pak-Indian divide. Here's a great piece from Lahore Grammar School that some of you may have missed (or even forgotten).

Watch here!

It would be wonderful to have many of our current youth and, even more important, those in the group that were there during the shooting, to see if they have changed their views - one side or another.

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Friday, January 08, 2010


The morning after the Blasphemy Laws were introduced by Zia - much before they were made even worse under Nawaz - "Dawn" carried the news item that contained a list of Surah.Aayat (2.85, 2.136, 2.157, 4.65, 4.150, 4.152, 9.61) deemed to be the basis of the laws. Having read the Qürãn frequently - and intently - while compiling some comparative religion documents and, again, while doing some cross-checking for Ziauddin Kirmani's Seerat-un-Nabi (considered controversial by many), I could not recall any parts that suggested a life sentence or a death penalty for blasphemy which, certainly, is considered in the holy book as a rude and annoying act and one that angers Allah. To be sure that my memory was playing no tricks, I immediately checked up Abdullah Yusuf Ali's translation into English of each of these references, including the Aayats just before and after them (for they are numbered slightly differently in some translations). Later, just to be doubly sure, I also cross-checked with the very simple and readable translation by Fateh Mohammad Jullenderi. I did realize, though, that very few others would left their breakfast tables, copying the Aayat numbers down somewhere, to check against their copies of the Qürãn lying (as expected!) in another room. It was, after all, work-time rush hour and, surely, the media was expected to have done it's homework. And, ohh the inconvenience of having to do the vüzoo - (now vüdhoo!) - for the tedious checking up, especially when one has already put on a suit. Of course, there must have been those who thought of it and put it off till later … but such checking is rarely done once the moment has passed. In fact, being aware of this phenomenon is how politicians and the media often purposefully misquote things and get away with it. (The much-maligned Internet is far superior in this regard because, whenever the need occurs, it can instantly link you to other references.) To say that I was puzzled by the incongruousness of the claims and the references cited for them would be an understatement. Here they are. Judge for yourself and figure out how they relate to Blasphemy and the Life/Death sentences: 2.85 2:84 And remember We took your covenant (to this effect): Shed no blood amongst you, nor turn out your own people from your homes: and this ye solemnly ratified, and to this ye can bear witness. 2:85 After this it is ye, the same people, who slay among yourselves, and banish a party of you from their homes; assist (Their enemies) against them, in guilt and rancour; and if they come to you as captives, ye ransom them, though it was not lawful for you to banish them. Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? but what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life?- and on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For God is not unmindful of what ye do. 2:86 These are the people who buy the life of this world at the price of the Hereafter: their penalty shall not be lightened nor shall they be helped. 2.136 2:135 They say: "Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation)." Say thou: "Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with God." 2:136 Say ye: "We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to God (in Islam)." 2:137 So if they believe as ye believe, they are indeed on the right path; but if they turn back, it is they who are in schism; but God will suffice thee as against them, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. (The portion in italic, incidentally, also affirms that the Qürãn lays down no death punishment for apostasy, for Allah Himself is going to dole out punishment for that sin.) 2.157 2:156 Who say, when afflicted with calamity: "To God We belong, and to Him is our return". 2:157 They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from God, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance. 2:158 Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of God. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeyeth his own impulse to good,- be sure that God is He Who recogniseth and knoweth. 4.65 4:64 We sent not an apostle, but to be obeyed, in accordance with the will of God. If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked God's forgiveness, and the Apostle had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found God indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful. 4:65 But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. 4:66 If We had ordered them to sacrifice their lives or to leave their homes, very few of them would have done it: But if they had done what they were (actually) told, it would have been best for them, and would have gone farthest to strengthen their (faith); 4.150 and 4.152 4:149 Whether ye publish a good deed or conceal it or cover evil with pardon, verily God doth blot out (sins) and hath power (in the judgment of values). 4:150 Those who deny God and His apostles, and (those who) wish to separate God from His apostles, saying: "We believe in some but reject others": And (those who) wish to take a course midway, 4:151 They are in truth (equally) unbelievers; and we have prepared for unbelievers a humiliating punishment. 4:152 To those who believe in God and His apostles and make no distinction between any of the apostles, we shall soon give their (due) rewards: for God is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful. 4:153 The people of the Book ask thee to cause a book to descend to them from heaven: Indeed they asked Moses for an even greater (miracle), for they said: "Show us God in public," but they were dazed for their presumption, with thunder and lightning. Yet they worshipped the calf even after clear signs had come to them; even so we forgave them; and gave Moses manifest proofs of authority. Hmmm! Nothing so far that even remotely and through serious stretching and misinterpreting can be connected to Blasphemy. But wait. There is still the last one cited: 9.61 9:60 Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of God; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by God, and God is full of knowledge and wisdom. 9:61 Among them are men who molest the Prophet and say, "He is (all) ear." Say, "He listens to what is best for you: he believes in God, has faith in the Believers, and is a Mercy to those of you who believe." But those who molest the Apostle will have a grievous penalty. 9:62 To you they swear by God. In order to please you: But it is more fitting that they should please God and His Apostle, if they are Believers. Ok. Since there is a link, of sorts, that the italicised part in the above forms - and that was what the two Maulvis we debated the next day at an ICN forum kept coming back to - let's look at four more translations of it: Khalifa: Some of them hurt the prophet by saying, "He is all ears!" Say, "It is better for you that he listens to you. He believes in GOD, and trusts the believers. He is a mercy for those among you who believe." Those who hurt GOD's messenger have incurred a painful retribution. Pickthall: And of them are those who vex the Prophet and say: He is only a hearer. Say: A hearer of good for you, who believeth in Allah and is true to the believers, and a mercy for such of you as believe. Those who vex the messenger of Allah, for them there is a painful doom. Shakir: And there are some of them who molest the Prophet and say: He is one who believes every thing that he hears; say: A hearer of good for you (who) believes in Allah and believes the faithful and a mercy for those of you who believe; and (as for) those who molest the Apostle of Allah, they shall have a painful punishment. Sher Ali: And among them are those who annoy the Prophet and say, `He is all ear.' Say, `His giving ear to all is for your good; he believes in ALLAH and believes the Faithful, and is a mercy for those of you who believe.' And those who annoy the Messenger of ALLAH shall have a grievous punishment. Oh what a tangled web they weave … When first they practice to deceive.

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