EQUAL BEFORE ALLAH

Difference, or, let us say, the right to differ, lies at the root of all knowledge, inquiry investigation, research and progress. While, therefore, we must strive to safeguard the right to differ, to question, to dissent and on occasion even to protest, we must at the same time strive to secure that our differences, in every sphere-religious, philosophical, scientific, social, economic, political or whatever, should act and react beneficently and not destructively.

The great Imams of Jurisprudence, Sunni and Shia alike, and also those of other persuasions, together with their eminent disciples and a host of those who followed after them have, through their unremitting labours sustained through centuries, not only enriched and embellished Muslim Jurisprudence, but made an invaluable contribution to the development of the Science of Law and to what that eminent international jurist C. Wilfred Jenks, has called the Common Law of Mankind. They have thus laid the juristic world under a heavy debt of gratitude.

Islam is an Arabic word, derived from a root which means both “peace” and “submission”. It thus connotes the attainment of peace, here and Hereafter, through submission to Allah, or, in other words, through conformity to His Will. A person who thus submits is a Muslim. In the Quran (the scripture of Islam), the appellation “Muslim” is applied to all the righteous.

So with every Prophet; those who accepted a Prophet and submitted to the Divine Will as revealed through him were Muslims. The Quran, however, affirms the truth of all previous revelations and the righteousness of all previous Prophets.

It starts with the position that no people has been left without revealed guidance. This flows from God’s attribute of Providence. He is not only the Creator of the Universe but also sustains, nourishes and leads it stage by stage towards perfection. A Muslim is required to believe in the truth of previous revelations and in the righteousness of all Prophets.

ISLAM advocates for the rights of all humans without regard to nationality, religion, race or gender. Islamic values include education for all, freedom of conscience, food security, the right to freedom from violence etc. etc.

Fortunately, Muslim society has the remedy to hand.

Difference or dissent, sincerely and honestly held, is no evil.

The Prophet said: Honest difference of opinion among my people should be accounted a blessing.

The Quran is clear and emphatic:  There shall be no compulsion in religion. Surely, guidance has become distinct from error.

Even more clearly has it been announced: The Truth is from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe and let him who will disbelieve?

And who is more truthful in his word than Allah?

The conclusion of our discourse is: All worthiness of Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

Quran verses demonstrate a religion devoted to freedom equality and human dignity.

Above excerpts are from the book of Sir Zafarullah Khan, “Islam and human rights, “ which was a comparative study of Islam and  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world. The Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948.

Sir Zafarullah Khan was appointed first Foreign Minister of Pakistan in 1947 by the founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah himself. For many years he led the Pakistan Delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and he was President of the General Assembly’s Seventeenth Session. Then he had served as Judge and President of the International Court of Justice at The Hague until 1958. As Pakistan’s first Foreign Minister, he addressed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in the days leading up to the passing of the Objectives Resolution. The Objectives Resolution, which combined features of both Western and Islamic democracy, is one of the most important documents in the constitutional history of Pakistan. It was designed to provide equal rights for all citizens of Pakistan, regardless of their race, religion or background.

Addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, in 1949, he said:

It is a matter of great sorrow that, mainly through mistaken notions of zeal, the Muslims have during the period of decline earned for themselves an unenviable reputation for intolerance. But that is not the fault of Islam. Islam has from the beginning proclaimed and inculcated the widest tolerance. For instance, so far as freedom of conscience is concerned the Quran says “There shall be no compulsion” of faith. 2:256 Al-Quran

He was one of the most influential, skilled, and passionate diplomats of his time. In a personal tribute, King Hussein bin Tallal of Jordan said: He was indeed a champion of the Arab cause and his ceaseless efforts whether among the Muslim and non-aligned countries or at the International Court of Justice will remain forever a shining example of a great man truly dedicated to our faith and civilization.

He earned the abiding respect and admiration of the Arab and other Muslim nations as a defender of their interests Muhammad Fadhil al-Jamali, a former Prime Minister of Iraq, in a tribute on his death, wrote:

In fact, it was not possible for any Arab, however capable and competent he may be, to serve the cause of Palestine in a manner in which this distinguished and great man dedicated himself. What was the result of the debate in the United Nations is another matter. But, it must be acknowledged that Mohammad Zafrullah Khan occupies a pre-eminent position in defending the Palestinians in this dispute. We expect from all Arabs and followers of Islam that they will never forget this great Muslim fighter. After Palestine, the services of this man for the independence of Libya also deserve admiration. In the United Nations, his struggle for the rights of Arabs formed the basis of firm and lasting friendship between us.

Whenever I read about Sir Zafarullah Khan, it makes me feel proud that Mohammed Ali Jinnah had so many talented people around him of international stature; he never looked at the people’s faith when he was making his choices. Unfortunately after seventy three years government of Pakistan is only looking at the faith of people before giving them any responsibilities not their competence. 

Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan at the funeral of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Recently Pakistan’s minister of state for parliamentary affairs Ali Muhammad Khan has called for the beheading of people who commit blasphemy. Ali Muhammad Khan made the comments in response to conflicting reports that Ahmadis had been given representation on a newly established National Minorities Council.

Minister for Religious Affairs Noor ul Haq Qadri in an interview with Nadeem Malik has said that anybody that has soft corner in his heart about Ahmedis is a (ghaddar) traitor of Islam and Pakistan both.

I would like to ask both the federal ministers, that where should  we put Mohammed Ali Jinnah who himself appointed Sir Zafarullah Khan first foreign minister of Pakistan knowing that he was an Ahmedi, Dr Muhammad Iqbal remain under the influence of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed for years?

Disassociation or disagreements with the views of people are possible, but how can you call me or anyone a traitor of Islam and Pakistan for having soft corner for Ahmedis? I find such statements completely against the essence of Islam.

I am a firm believer of Ali Ibn e Abi Talib’s saying:

LOOK AT WHAT IS BEING SAID, NOT WHO IS SAYING IT. F�� �6�g�

Bani Israel

There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds. When I look back at my school days, I can only recall a grotesque impression of Jews, nothing positive about them, and I am afraid after four decades it hasn’t change much. Religious hate and bigotry has been immensely increased against minorities in different parts of the world.

Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

― Yehuda Bauer

The Holocaust is more than a warning from the past. A phantom of the Jews haunted Europe in the 1930s. Concurrently feared and despised as a Christ killer, a devil, subversive revolutionary and capitalist exploiter, callous upholder of an antiquated religion and insidious exponent of cultural modernism. Increasingly excluded from normal society and expelled from common human fellowship, the Jew was a subhuman, eventually almost everywhere a haunted beast.

Some Christians often blame the Jews for the death of Jesus. But this blame should probably be limited to the Jewish religious leaders, who had managed to keep some of their power by cooperating with the Romans. Crucifixion was a Roman method of punishment, and it is a basic fact that Roman soldiers, not Jews, put Jesus on the cross. A compromise view is that, Jewish leaders and Romans, played major roles, but only Jews paid the price.

In the 1920s the European Jews had presented the appearance of a vibrant and flourishing people. For the first time in their history they were recognised as citizens in every country they lived. However within the short space of two decades a dramatic change transformed. By 1939, two years before the Nazi decision to commit genocide, Jews had been deprived of civil rights and were in the process of being turned into outcasts. The great masses of Jews in east-central Europe were sunk in dire poverty. Whether in the Poland, Germany, France or USSR, Jews sincerely protested their loyalty to states of which they were citizens. Confronted by violent enmity, they embarked on a road toward collective oblivion that appeared to be the price of individual survival. Jewish culture was in retreat, as a result. Religious practice was decreasing and the orthodox, in particular, felt embattled and threatened. The cultural glue that had long bound Jews together was losing its cohesive power. The European Jews in the 1930s were actors in their own history.

By January 1939 more and more Jews in Europe were being reduced to wandering refugees. All over the continent, Jews were evicted from their homes and forced to live in camps. Growing numbers were confined in concentration camps, not just in Germany but in France and Netherlands too. The expulsion fever spread to Southeast Europe. Yugoslavia started deporting Jewish refugees who had arrived from Germany and Italy. At the end of April the Bulgarian and Romanian governments ordered the expultion of alien Jews. In Western Europe too, refugees were confined to camps. From there to mass murder was not an inevitable step.

Hitler explicitly stated in his September 1919 letter that, the Jews are definitely a race and not a religious community. This was fundamental to his anti-Semitic belief. Despite a desperate search to identify a test for Jewish blood, the Nazis never managed to find a scientific way of telling whether or not an individual was a member of the Jewish race or not. As a result, once the Nazis started to prosecute and eventually exterminate Jews, they had to rely on a Jewishness test that was religious. The primacy of race in human history was so central to Hitler’s world view that he would never let the small matter of science get in the way of his belief. The idea that racial hygiene was central to the health of a nation that the Jews were a racial threat to Aryan people, added a potentially catastrophic element to the anti-Semitic brew. Traditional anti-Semitism had been based on religion. If the Jews converted to Christianity then they had a chance of escaping persecution. But the idea that Jewishness was something inherent in an individual, in the blood.

The invasion of Austria and the subsequent union of the country with Germany was a success for Hitler’s regime. Hitler’s self confidence rose in the wake of the Nazi conquest of Austria.

Hitler claimed that his existence was part of a supernatural plan, whoever believes in God must admit: when the fate of a people is altered within three days, then this is divine judgement, and that since God had now decreed that Germany and Austria should be united then, what the Lord has joined together, let no man divide.

Around 37,000 German Jews left Germany in 1933. Many of them went to neighbouring France or The Netherlands. The action against the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto was one of the most atrocious of all the horrors of the Holocaust. Almost all of the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were sent to the death camp at Treblinka. By June 1942, the first death factories of the Holocaust were in place, and the Nazis had created a method of killing that allowed them to murder in considerable numbers. This specialised death camp was the largest and most deadly. Around 850,000 people were murdered here between summer of 1942 and autumn 1943, around a quarter of a million of them from Warsaw ghetto. The Schutzstaffel, known as SS was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler achieved this killing because Treblinka had been built with a railway spur leading directly into the camp. The SS were able to speed up the unloading of the Jews and their transportation to the gas chambers. An obvious precondition for the deception was that the presence of large numbers of dead bodies was hidden from the arriving Jews. The killing appeared to progress efficiently for SS, with about 5,000 to 7,000 Jews murdered each day.

I wanted to post the picture of Dr Fritz Klein who was a German Nazi doctor and war criminal, standing in a mass grave surrounded by corpses around him, but couldn’t. He was hanged for his role in atrocities at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Holocaust. When asked how he reconciled his actions with his ethical obligations as a physician, Klein famously stated:

My Hippocratic Oath tells me to cut a gangrenous appendix out of the human body. The Jews are the gangrenous appendix of mankind. That’s why I cut them out.

On July 11,1944 Sir Winston Churchill wrote: There is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world, and it has been done by scientific machinery by nominally civilized men in the name of a great State and one of the leading races of Europe. Declarations should be made in public, so that everyone connected with it will be hunted down and put to death.

But words of outrage and threat on their own didn’t directly help the Jews who were dying in AUSCHWITZ.

Ashura

The day of Ashura is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shia Muslims it is a major religious commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein Ibn e Ali, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad pbuh. The Karbala tragedy became the event, as a symbol of the victory of the oppressive majority over the righteous few. Three days after the battle of Karbala, Imam Hussain Ibn Ali was buried by his son. His infant was placed on his chest and his elder son at his feet. Bani Asad, a tribe who lived on the outskirts, assisted with burying the martyrs, and a tree was planted to indicate the grave of Imam Hussain. Until today, its old location is indicated by a door to the shrine called ‘Baab Al-Sidrah’ (gate of the tree).

The origins of the name Karbala are contested. In its etymology, Karbala most likely originates from Kar Bel, or Kur Babel, meaning a group of Babylonian villages, that included Ninawa, Al-Nawawees, Al-Hira, among others. Some narrations mention that the Prophet Muhammad pbuh himself during his lifetime mentioned the definition, implying that the word was a combination of Karb (land that causes agonies) and Balaa’ (afflictions). It is said that the land once included an ancient graveyard for Christians and was famous in pre-Islamic times, as part of the cities of the historic Tusuh An-Nahrain, situated on the shore of the old Euphrates River. At the time of the battle of Karbala, the land was uninhabited, though it was rich with water and had fertile soil.

Shia Muslims across the world mark the days leading up to Ashura each year starting from Muharram 1.While Sunni Muslims acknowledge the events of Karbala, and observe a voluntary day of fasting which commemorates the day Noah left the Ark, and the day that Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God.

Muhammad bin Idris al-Shafi‘i was one of the four Sunni Imams, whose legacy on juridical matters and teaching eventually led to the Shafi’i school of fiqh. He was the most prominent student of Imam Malik ibn Anas, the eponymous founder of the Maliki School of thought. Imam Shafi’i pays tribute to Imam Hussain ibn e Ali:

O who shall be the bearer of a message from me to Hussain?

Slaughtered, though without sin himself,

His shirt as if dyed through with crimson.

Now the sword itself wails, and the spear shrieks,

And the horse which once only whinnied, laments.

The world quaked for the sake of the Family of Muhammad;

For their sake, the solid mountains might have melted away.

Heavenly bodies sunk, the stars trembled,

Oh veils were torn, and breasts were rent!

He who asks blessing for the one sent from the Tribe of Hashim,

But attacks his sons; truly, that is strange!

And if my sin is love of the Family of Muhammad:

Then that is a sin from which I do not repent

Mourning for the incident of Karbala began almost immediately after the battle. The first assembly of the Commemoration of Imam Hussain ibn Ali is said to have been held by Zainab Bint Ali in prison. Popular elegies were written by poets to commemorate the Battle of Karbala during the Umayyad and Abbasid era, and the earliest public mourning rituals occurred in 963 CE during the Buyid dynasty.

Processions are taken out across the continents on the day of Ashura. Shias across the world express their mourning in various ways. The Tazia, for the uninitiated, is a replica of the shrine of Imam Hussain is a key feature of the Muharram processions throughout Pakistan. Tazias tend to cross sectarian and even religious boundaries, with Hindus and Sikhs. Taziadari is a mixture of all the cultures, beliefs and faiths of the subcontinent and can be said a great religious unifying factor. Historians trace the tradition of the Tazia to the invasion of northern India by Tamerlane in the 14th Century.

The Tazia of the Ustad in the city of Saints Multan leads the procession with the Tazia of the Shagird at the back, symbolizing the student’s respect for his teacher. Ustad Pir Bakhsh designed the five storeys Tazia. The Tazia is a 27-foot structure with seven storeys, made completely out of teak wood which appeared early in the morning of Ashura whereas the five storey Tazia of Shagird appear by noon on the day of Ashura. The Ustadwala Tazia is more than200 years old while Shagirdwala Tazia is more than 70 years old.

On the other hand Chiniot is home to the oldest and finest Tazias in Indo-Pak subcontinent. Chiniot, in the Jhang district of the Punjab, is famed for its woodwork and the Tazia benefits from this local expertise. The craftsmen of Chiniot, who are engaged in making furniture for most of the year, consider it a point of PRESTIGE and a mark of their exalted status among their peers, in terms of expertise as well as spirituality, to be associated with Tazia making.

In a region that has become known for its religious and sectarian conflict, Tazias or representations of the tombs of the imams, which form part of Muharram processions, are a reminder of a more harmonious time. Lovingly constructed with great devotion and attention to detail, Tazias are often built by Barelvi Sunni Muslims in Chiniot no one can differentiate between Shiite or Sunni devotees during the performances of the Muharram rituals. In fact, with a few exceptions, almost all Tazia artisans belong to the Sunni sect.

Shah Jamal Wala Tazia, one of the oldest Tazias of Jhang, has the same form as the Lal Nath temple in Jhang city. The form of the Tazia closely resembles that of a Hindu temple. The Tazia of Shadi Malang in Chiniot is similar in form to the Hindu temples of Orissa. This is the true legacy of the multi-religious subcontinent where Muslim culture took root amidst the rich cultural landscape of ancient India. Diversities and differences were honoured, and aesthetics as well as human values were cherished to this purpose. Those who carry the Tazia are almost all Sunni and in pre-Partition India were of the Hindu faith.

The respect for and sharing of religious space is also evident in Hyderabad, Sindh, another important centre of Tazia-making. Here the Hindu community is still deeply involved in the Muharram traditions and some members are known to set up Sabeels so that no one is denied water even as they recall the thirst of the martyrs of Karbala. Again, all the Tazia-makers in Hyderabad are Sunni, and they see the craft as a distinguishing feature that keeps alive their identity as immigrants.

(Tazias of Chiniot by Ghulam Abbas)

Let the people observe Ashura the way they like to observe it. Let us not judge each other, let Hussain Ibn Ali unite us under the flag of Humanity.

Water crisis

Water connects every aspect of life. The water crisis is a health crisis. Access to safe water and sanitation means opportunity for improved health and the ability to help fight disease. Access to safe water means improved health. It means increased dignity and reduced psychological stress for young ladies and women.
The human body consists of 70% of water. Roughly 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, of which 96.5% is contained in saltwater oceans. Less than one percent of the water on Earth is fresh and approachable. We all need it to survive. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s species live in lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers, and they are declining at a faster rate than terrestrial and ocean species. WWF is focusing on freshwater ecosystems to help produce a sustainable future for all. Population growth, changing consumption patterns and climate change have put increased pressure on our new water resources.
Cape Town is running out of water and low dam levels in the emerald-green highlands of Lesotho are raising alarm bells in South Africa’s industrial heartland around Johannesburg, which delivers so far avoided the shortages hitting other regions. The overall picture of South Africa is worrying, with Cape Town the most urgent.
Expressing concerns over using up water reserves in Pakistan, environmental experts and researchers say mega cities like Lahore lack safe drinking water. According to WASA Lahore, the ground water table depth in Lahore city has sunk by 600 feet to 1,000 feet. This is an alarming development as the water table depth in the rest of Punjab is between 30 to 60 bases.
Other large cities in Punjab facing the same situation are Faisalabad and Multan while the same situation also prevails in Karachi owing to its enormous size and humungous population. The urban centre is facing shortage of water as it is not getting the required 100 million gallons of water. Water theft and power outages at the pumping stations are also the main reason as to why the supply to Karachi is being moved.
New approaches to filtration and extracting moisture from air promise to relieve the world’s looming water scarcity crisis. Meanwhile, improved technology for capturing water vapour from the air holds out hope for arid areas.
Desalination technologies could take fresh water to everyone, but are currently very costly. Desalination is an operation that extracts mineral components from saline water. More generally, desalination refers to the removal of salts and minerals from a target sum. Most of the modern interest in desalination focuses on the cost-effective provision of clean water for human use. Along with recycled wastewater, it is one of the few rainfall-independent water sources.
Due to its energy consumption, desalinating sea water is generally more costly than fresh water from rivers or groundwater, water recycling and water preservation. Nevertheless, these alternatives are not always available and depletion of reserves is a critical problem worldwide. Presently, approximately 1% of the world’s population are dependent on desalinated water to meet daily needs. Desalinated water is usually healthier than water from rivers and ground water, and in that respect is less salty and lime scale in it.

Nevertheless, a revolution in water filtration developed at The University of Manchester could provide a much-needed solution, with ready access to clean water finally a real possibility for the world. A research team led by Professor Rahul Nair in Manchester University has developed a graphene-oxide membrane that makes whisky clear, paving the way for new commercial application of graphene membrane. The latest research report says that the newly developed membrane allowed alcohol to fall through and remove the larger molecules, which gives the amber colour to whisky. We filtered whisky and cognac through the graphene-oxide membrane. As a result, we reasoned that the membrane allowed, the alcohol to pass through, removing the larger molecules that give it amber colour. The clear whisky smells similar to the original whisky. According to Dr Nair, the new research would help them extend the applications of grapheme-based membranes from sea water desalination to organic solvent nanofiltration.
On April 2017, Prof Nair demonstrated that a multi-layer membrane made from graphite oxide can filter out the sodium chloride in seawater much more promptly and cleanly than existing techniques. Unlike sea water desalination, which separates salt from water, OSN technology separates charged or uncharged organic compounds from an organic solvent.
Prof Nair hopes full-sized desalination plants with graphene membranes will be possible within five years. Still, he thinks that a small scale version of the graphing filter can be developed for bottles and household units within two years. Initial studies indicate that all this is absolutely feasible with the graphene membrane; it performs superbly, better than anything else. Graphene filters would have the further benefit that they will not let any liquid through when they get to the end of their life. During the following few months, the portable graphing filters will be tested to check that they work for chemical contaminants such as cadmium, copper, arsenic, nitrites, nitrates and pesticides.
Solutions to the problems are there, it all depends how quickly actions are taken to resolve the issues.

Modern Slavery

The “sex work” discourse has turned the world’s oldest profession into the world’s most modern profession. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being legal and considered a profession to being punishable by death.
Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern cultures. Prostitution has been described as the world’s oldest profession, and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.
Prostitution was commonplace in ancient Israel. There are a number of references to prostitution in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical story of Judah and Tamar provides a depiction of prostitution being practiced in that time period. Prostitution in Ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In Ancient Rome, even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. At the same time, the prostitutes themselves were considered shameful. Most prostitutes were slaves or freedwomen, and it is difficult to determine the balance of voluntary to forced prostitution. Because slaves were considered property under Roman law, it was legal for an owner to employ them as prostitutes. During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape. However, sexual slavery was not considered prostitution and was very common during the Arab slave trade during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Women and girls from the Caucasus, Africa, Central Asia and Europe were captured and served as concubines in the harems of the Arab World.
In 1949, the UN General Assembly adopted a convention stating that, prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person, requiring all signing parties to punish pimps and brothel owners and operators and to abolish all special treatment or registration of prostitutes. As of January 2009, the convention was ratified by 95 member nations including France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and not ratified by another 97 member nations including Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Prostitution has occupational hazards that few other jobs come close to: 82 percent of people in prostitution have been physically assaulted, 83 percent have been threatened with a weapon and 68 percent have been raped. The death rate among women in prostitution is higher than for any other group of women, including homeless women and drug addicts.
Groups claiming to represent “sex workers” are just as likely to be a voice for pimps as they are to represent the women who earn their living selling sex.
Several terms are becoming derogatory and indecent as human race is moving forward. In Oct 2010 President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government.
It was Barack Obama who said that human trafficking should be renamed ‘modern slavery’, so as to highlight the appalling conditions people were living in.The same applies to prostitution: it is not ‘sex work’. Most of the time, it is modern slavery.

Prostitution has not changed. It is the same industry, the same rich men buying poor women, the same exploitation, the same violence and the same trafficking. What has changed is the label.
Hooker, whore, prostitute, call girl, harlot, slut, etc. etc.
At least to me I find all the above terms derogatory and disrespectful. Have we given any term to the men who pay these sex workers for their time? Why do they deserve any respect if women sex worker can’t?
Why are we judgemental towards the women sex workers only? Why not the men who is paying?
I am in agreement with the Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, where it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them — the client commits a crime, but not the sex worker.

 

Sadequain forever

IMG_7301بول کے لب آزاد ہیں تیرے

بول، زباں اب تک تیری ہے

تیرا ستواں جسم ہے تیرا

بول کہ جاں اب تک تیری ہے

دیکھ کے آہن گر کی دکاں میں

تند ہے شعل، سرخ ہے آہن

کھلنے لگے قفلوں کے دہانے

پھیلا ہر اک زنجیر کا دامن

بول، یہ تھوڑا وقت بہت ہے

جسم و زباں کی موت سے پہلے

بول کہ سچ زندہ ہے اب تک

بول، جو کچھ کہنا ہے کہہ لے

Majorelle Marrakech

Towering minarets against deep blue skies immediately spring to my mind whenever I think of Marrakech, known as the Red City thanks to the vividness of distinctive hue of the thick walls surrounding the old city. For decades Marrakech has been a popular tourist destination, attracting everyone from the Beatles to Yves Saint Laurent.

Vigorous and bustling Jemaa el Fnaa is a whirlwind of colour and noise, where concourse of people braid between packed stalls exhibiting brightly coloured spices, dry fruits and a thousand other goods, in the evening the square is packed with fire-eaters, acrobats, astrologers, and other characters of street entertainers.

Only a 20 minute walk from the Jemaa el Fnaa is one of the most evocative places in Marrakech, a tranquil garden Jardin Majorelle. As I enter the garden it seems hard to believe that only half an hour ago I was walking through the bustling crowds of Jemaa El Fnaa square. Inside the Majorelle gardens the atmosphere is totally tranquil, sky high bamboos, palm trees and the complex arrangement of cacti and flora has left me in an overwhelming feeling of reverence. The flows and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers, delicate sound of dribbling water accompanies the song of the nightingale in the gardens, the rustling of leaves and the chirping of numerous exotic birds who come here to take refuge.

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Set up by the expatriate French painter Jacques Majorelle in 1920s.The son of well-known furniture designer Louis Majorelle, was born in 1886 in Nancy. After studying art in Paris, Majorelle visited Morocco, whose colours and light mesmerized him. Moving to Marrakech in 1919 with his wife, he bought four acres of land in 1923 where he built his Moorish-style villa. His greatest art work is supposed to be the Majorelle Garden, which he created in 1924. A special colour of blue, which he practiced extensively in the garden, is named after him – Majorelle Blue. During his travels, he brought home plants from all over the world, corresponded with fellow passionate gardeners worldwide, and amassed a total of 10 acres to have more distance. It took him forty years of love and dedication to create the enchanting garden in the heart of the Marrakech. The more he travelled, the more he enjoyed gardening, he began to bring plants from around the globe and to communicate internationally with people who shared his passion for botany. He took on hundreds of rare varieties of trees and plants.

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Majorelle opened it to the public in 1947. Sadly, after his 1956 divorce, he was pressured to sell off the property piece by piece. After a serious car accident, he went for medical treatment in the last year of his life to Paris, where he died in 1962. The garden was deserted after his death.

Since 1980 the garden has been owned by French Fashion Designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. After preserving the garden and villa from demolition for a new hotel, Saint Laurent bought them in 1980 with his partner Pierre Berge.

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Saint Laurent increased its number of plant species to 300 from 135, and installed automatic irrigation systems pegged to certain times and the demands of each plant. He and Berge lived in the villa, renamed Villa Oasis, which they decorated as an Orientalist fantasy, and turned Majorelle’s studio into a museum of Islamic artwork.

After Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) died in 2008, in the presence of numerous personalities and friends, Yves Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered at Villa Oasis, his private residence in Majorelle Garden.

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Saint-Laurent praised the garden as a “constant source of divine guidance,” saying he even dreamed about its vibrant colours. We were seduced by this oasis where the colours of Matisse were mixed with those of nature.

Le_jardin_des_majorelle_14

Whore of Babylon

Several terms are becoming derogatory and indecent as human race is moving forward. In Oct 2010 President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government.
Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern cultures. Prostitution has been described as the world’s oldest profession, and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.
Prostitution was commonplace in ancient Israel. There are a number of references to prostitution in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical story of Judah and Tamar provides a depiction of prostitution being practiced in that time period. Prostitution in Ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In Ancient Rome, even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. At the same time, the prostitutes themselves were considered shameful. Most prostitutes were slaves or freedwomen, and it is difficult to determine the balance of voluntary to forced prostitution. Because slaves were considered property under Roman law, it was legal for an owner to employ them as prostitutes. During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape. However, sexual slavery was not considered prostitution and was very common during the Arab slave trade during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Women and girls from the Caucasus, Africa, Central Asia and Europe were captured and served as concubines in the harems of the Arab World.

Hooker, whore, and prostitute, call girl, hooker, harlot, slut, etc. etc.
At least to me I find all the above terms derogatory and disrespectful. Have we given any term to the men who pay these sex workers for their time? Why do they deserve any respect if women sex worker can’t?
Why are we judgemental towards the women sex workers?
Don’t you think men visiting brothels are prostitutes not women?
What’s a polite and respectful name for a prostitute?
Ask yourself this question honestly?

Like mother like daughters

Every day is women’s day.

The International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women’s Day has been coming about for well over a century – and continues to grow from strength to strength.

This day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. The General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be remarked on any day of the year by Member States.

Obsession is, the domination of one’s thoughts or impressions by a persistent idea, image, or desire. Since I met with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, I am obsessed with her fearlessness, her vision for democracy, her views on human rights and freedom of speech. Today Pakistan is celebrating the International Women’s day, I would like to share not a pleasant incident, but it is linked to her bravery.

On Nov 27 1991 a friend of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Farhana Veena Hayat was assaulted by five gunmen at her residence in Karachi. Ms Farhana Veena Hayat was the daughter of Sardar Shaukat Hayat, a prominent member of the All India Muslim League and granddaughter of Sir Sikander Hayat, chief minister of united Punjab.

She accused the province’s home affairs adviser, Irfanullah Marwat, a son-in-law of the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, of having ordered the violation. She claimed the rape was politically motivated because of her friendship with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. There were two other cases set out the limelight because of Farhana Hayat’s case, Khursheed Begum and Rahila Tiwana, a Pakistan Peoples Party student activist. All three women were connected with PPP.

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She was raped to send me a message. This is the worst sort of male prejudice, male chauvinism to send a message to a woman political leader by raping her friend, her supporters: Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto led her Pakistan People’s Party, chanting “Fascists,” in an unprecedented walkout from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s ceremonial address to a session of Parliament. Firing tear-gas canisters and swinging batons, police later drove 2,000 Bhutto supporters away from the heavily guarded Parliament House. Ghulam Ishaq Khan denied any official complicity. He told the reporters that the charges against Irfan Ullah Marwat are nothing more than fabrication.

Initially, the Sindh. The government tried to sink off the case as one of audacity and assault. The police even refused to lodge an FIR. Benazir Bhutto, along with several political parties and women’s organizations, established a countrywide campaign demanding the arrest of the offenders but no arrests were made. Protests over the rape of Farhana Hayat reached a peak on 12 December 1991 when rallies were called in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi

On Dec 12 1991 the Sindh government formed a one-man tribunal consisting of Abdul Rahim Qazi of the Sindh High Court to test the case. The tribunal’s report, presented to the Sindh government two weeks later and made public. The tribunal cleared Mr Irfan Ullah Marwat of any engagement in the rape and also concluded there was no political motive behind the rope.

Mr Irfan ullah Marwat remained highly controversial during the term of office of all powerful Sindh Chief ministers, the late Jam Sadiq Ali. The two, along with the former DIG CIA, Samiullah Marwat, were blamed by Benazir Bhutto for unleashing a reign of terror on the PPP leaders and workers, which reminded her of the days of the late General Ziaul Haq.

Mr Irfan Ullah Marwat, who was elected from the PS-114 constituency on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) ticket, met Ex-President Asif Ali Zardari on 24TH February 2017 at the Bilawal House and announced joining the party. I just got blanked when I heard this news, couldn’t understand how to respond.

While I was in shock BB’s daughter came to the deliverance;

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All faiths and all societies have given parents an honourable status. From a purely material standpoint, we find ourselves indebted to our parents, I am sure it must have been very difficult for Miss Bakhtawar Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto to show their disagreement publicly, but it was the training of their brave mother who taught her children how to show your disagreement without being rude. Our indebtedness to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it in full. Bakhtawar Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto you are an inspiration for millions this year and years to come. I hope you always will stand strong for the women of Pakistan.

Nothing is sacred…..

A lot has been penned since the suicide attack outside Lal Shahbaz Qalendar’s Shrine on Thursday last week and much more should be written to denounce the ISIS mindset who is critical of rituals performed at the shrines, and is viewed as heretical by some hardline groups.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said;
This is an attack on Pakistan’s future.

Sehwan Sharif is one of the oldest towns of Sindh. It is highly respected in Sindh because of resting place of the great mystic poet Syed Mohammad Usman Marvandi known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, who preached religious tolerance among people of many religious, especially Muslims and Hindus and therefore his mysticism attracted people from many religions. He was called Lal after his usual red attire. His shrine is a true synthetic place, where Hindus and Muslims are as welcome and worship together. One of my acquaintances told me that hereditary guardian of the tomb is still a Hindu. It is narrated that there was a Shiva lingam right there in the shrine until the 1970s. All these Hindu legends and beliefs have come together with the religious belief of the Muslims to create a truly extraordinary place. It is a habitat where different religious identities are embraced.

William Dalrymple spent some time at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan, meeting devotees and dervishes to understand the syncretic culture of the Sufis. In his book, Nine Lives, he describes the shrine as;

“A place where for once you saw religion acting to bring people together, not to separate them”.

In recent history the ideology of Extremism and bombing the Shrines started from Najaf. On 29 August 2003 a massive car bomb rocked the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf soon after Friday prayers, which claimed the lives 124 including one of Shiite top cleric Ayatullah Mohammad Baqar Al Hakeem who returned to Iraq after living in exile in Iran for 20 years. The bombing was the most virulent attack in Iraq in 2003. Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS follows a rigidly austere threat of Islam that believes shrines are inverse to Islam and should be demolished. To further their ideology of anti-shrines second major attack was carried on 22 February 2006 on Imam Askari’s Shrine, which shattered the golden dome of one of Iraq’s most revered Shiite shrines.

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On 29 March 2016 at least 72 people were wiped out in a suicide blast that took place in Lahore’s crowded Gulshan-I-Iqbal park. The powerful blast ripped through a massive crowded area of the park. Witnesses stated the crowd included a large number of Christian families celebrating Easter. Easter Sunday was supposed to be special. After going to church services, families gathered in the vast Gulshan-e-Iqbal park. Most of the victims were from Lahore’s beleaguered Christian community.

On 22 June 2016 Pakistan’s most respected musicians Amjad Farid Sabri, celebrated for devotional Qawalis from a century-old mystic tradition, was gunned down near his Liaqatabad residence. But both the music, and the shrines at which it is often performed, have long been a target for religious conservatives who despise all forms of music and consider the shrines eccentric and un-Islamic.

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Whether it is an attempt on the Imam Ali Shrine in Iraq or Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan or the loss of uncounted precious lives, nothing is sacrosanct to any hardline Islamists. The incorrigible behavior that Pakistan is seeing today is nowhere near the antiquated devotional attitudes and tolerant sentiments of the homeland. This is an attempt on a Pakistan’s pluralistic history, the attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar has once again demonstrated that the militants consider pluralistic Islam a threat to their own version of Islam. 305 people have been killed in 10 different attacks on Shrines since 2005.

We are not constrained by the confines of religious perimeters; this is the answer of the resilient majority of Pakistanis. We are united to overcome the extremists, and this is final.

The journey, not the destination….. travel; envisage; contemplate