South of Fes and Meknes in the north of Morocco are the breathtaking ruins of the Roman city of Volubilis.

The archeological site of Volubilis is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It was founded in the third century B.C. and became a Roman outpost. While it looks rather small from the hill above, it is actually quite large and has extremely well preserved mosaics.

One of the ancient doors to the fortified city and the main street lined with partial building facades. You can almost imagine Ben Hur’s Hollywood rival riding up the road on his chariot to get to the arena on time for the famous race.

This dramatic ancient Roman ruin site set on the shallow slopes of Mount Zerhourn, overlooking the vast fertile Wadi Khoumane plateau is one the Roman Empire’s most remote and far-flung frontier settlements – second only to a small trading outpost on an island off the coast of Essaouira. It is situated close to the Moroccan imperial city of Meknes, 150 miles inland from Tangiers.

The Romans around 40 C.E established Volubilis. They claimed control over North Africa, but they never gained complete control over the surrounding Berber tribes, who ardently resisted Roman occupation. Over time; however, the Berbers realized they could mutually benefit from the wealth and knowledge of land cultivation that the Romans possessed. Relations between the two were never fluid, and it wasn’t until the Arab Conquest in the seventh century that the Romans eventually abandoned Volubilis altogether.

Subhros Volubilisvol entranceVolubilis_Capitoline_temple.jpg Priorymanvolu me

Women : face of Islam

Aerial view of Hijr e Ismail,picture credit googleimages

I travel to open my heart and eyes and learn more around the world than our books will accommodate.I travel to bring what little I can in my ignorance and knowledge,to those parts of the globes whose riches are differently dispersed.Six years ago I travelled to Mecca to perform Hajj in search of few unanswered questions.

Hajj is one of mankind’s most enduring rites for more than 1400 years.The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their household during their absence. There are about 3 million Muslims from all over the World perform Hajj and approximately 4 million Muslims perform Umrah every year.The present form of Hajj was established by Muhammad with its roots in the chronicle of Abraham, the Hajj is a set of rituals performed every year for five days in the month of Zia-Hajj. Pilgrims follow the route of Muhammad, who went on only one Hajj. It begins in Mecca, before moving to the desert of Mina, then to Arafat, for a day-long vigil, then to the rocky plain of Muzdalifah, a few miles away, where pilgrims collect pebbles to ritually stone the Devil, and then brings back to Mina for three days. Back in Mecca, pilgrims bid farewell to the Kaaba.

What is so special about the Hajj that it is expected to produce close to significant changes in the personality, attitude, and outlook of a person? Is there anything magical in the rites and rituals of the Hajj that produces the changes, or is it the constant conscious effort on the part of the performer to inculcate in himself/herself the spirit of those rites and rituals which brings close to the desired changes?What is the most significant aspect of this adoration?

Since my return from Hajj I have consulted many accounts written on Hajj to learn the essence and core lesson from Hajj.Majority of the accounts discuss about the rewards of Hajj , seldom scholars have pointed out towards the literal message.

While browsing many accounts on Hajj I came across a quote from Jaffer Sadiq;

“Ismail buried his mother Hajr in the area of Hijr e Ismail and then constructed a wall over it so that people would not step her grave.”

The whole practice of Hajj hides in these lines ,this tradition is further explained by Dr Ali Shariti in his account on Hajj,he elaborates;

Toward the west of Kaaba there is a semi-circular short wall which faces Kaaba. It is called Ismail’s Hajar. Hajar signifies lap or skirt. The semi lunar wall resembles a skirt.Sarah, the wife of Ibrahim had a black maid called Hajar. Here was a woman who was not honoured enough to become a second wife to Ibrahim yet Allah connected the symbol of Hajar‘s skirt to His symbol, Kaaba.The skirt of Hajar was the region in which Ismail was raised. The house of Hajar is there. Her grave is near the third column of Kaaba.

What a surprise since no one, not even the prophets, is reckoned to be buried in mosques, but in this case, the house of a black maid is located next to Allah’s house! Hajar, the mother of Ismail is buried in that location. Kaaba extends toward her grave. There is a narrow passage between the wall (Hajar’s skirt) and Kaaba. When circumambulating around Kaaba, Allah commanded that you must go around the wall not through the passage otherwise your Hajj will not be taken on.

Those who believe in monotheism and those who have accepted Allah’s invitation to travel to Hajj must touch this skirt when circumambulating the Kaaba. The grave of a black African maid is now a part of Kaaba; it will be circumambulated by man forever! Today the infection of social profiling still remains where we are judged on the colour of our skin, caste, social class or even beliefs.  How wonderful is this symbol that Ismael planted?A flag of equality at the entrance of the all knowing, all seeing Great creator’s household. Now we can affirm the Kaaba is humanity’s bastion.

Allah, the Almighty  needs nobody and nothing. However, among all His countless and eternal creatures, Allah has chosen one, mankind, the noblest of them.From among all humanity: a woman, From among all women: a slave, And from among all slaves: a black housemaid!

The weakest and most humiliated one of His creatures was given a place at His side and a room in His house. He has come to her house and become her neighbour.. Hence now, there are two, Allah and Hajar, under the ceiling of this “HOUSE”!

The rites of Hajj are a memory of Hajar. The word Hijrah (migration) has its root in her name as does the word immigrant.

Hajar‘s grave is in the midst of man’s circumambulation of Kaaba. You, the immigrant, who has disassociated himself from everything and accepted Allah’s invitation to go to Hajj, you will circumambulate Hajar’s grave and the Kaaba of Allah simultaneously. The planets rotate around the sun, the electrons around the nucleus, rotating around such a center mean allegiance with love. Tens of thousands circumambulating around the Kaaba and Hajr like the galaxy turning together with billions of stars.

Although the history of hajj goes back to Ibrahim’s era, but Islam contributed furthermore towards Hajr.In the second year after Hijrah according to some traditions Prophet Muhammad was  commanded to change direction of prayers from Mosque Al-Aqsa to The Holy Kaaba.Prayers have become a constant reminder about  the importance of women. Stand in respect when you embark on your prayers and bow down to bury your ego to acknowledge the status of WOMEN and thank Almighty God in Sujood for giving you this chance to infer.It is hard to realise.But for those who think they live in freedom and defend humanism, the significance of these incidents transgresses the scope of their apprehension.



Esteem is an unassuming resounding force. It means being treated with consideration and esteem and to have a regard for other peoples’ feelings, listening to people and discovering them, i.e. giving them one’s full attention. Even more importantly, respect means treating one with dignity. Respect is the opposite of humiliation and contempt. Hence, where the latter can be a cause of conflict, the former and its opposite can help translate it. How do you feel when you are appreciated , honoured and respected ?

Do women need any legislation to protect themselves under such commandment ?

be respectful to women,for they are the mothers of mankind.”

This article first published in The Nation

Pakistan’sHomeless Cricket team

misbah-ul-haq-test-century-at-lords-cricket-groundPakistan’s homeless  Cricket  team have come a long way to reach on top of the Test ranking, it’s not a simple achievement  even if it is only for a day .Cricket has seen several  bad days, but Pakistan cricket have seen worst years. Several  incidents within the span of 8 years made Pakistan cricket homeless.

Foremost tragedy when a bomb exploded in 2002 outside the Pearl Continental Hotel in Karachi, where the New Zealand cricket team was staying. The New Zealand cricket squad  immediately  returned home. Six years later a group of young men of Pakistani origin terrorised Mumbai. Although that attach had nothing to do with cricket, but cricketing relations between India and Pakistan became collateral damage.

Nothing, however  gets close to the horrific catastrophe of March 3, 2009 which led to Pakistan being stripped of their 2011 World Cup hosting rights. Sri Lankans  who were touring Pakistan, had actually stepped in for India who had declined to see following the Mumbai 2008 attacks. The Sri Lankan team was making their way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on the third morning of the second Test. As the Sri Lankan team’s coach crossed Liberty Square, 12 armed gunmen fired at the coach. A minivan following the bus holding the match officials was also fired upon. Pakistan’s security forces fired back and in the ensuing gun battle, Six policemen and two bystanders were killed and the driver of the minivan carrying the match officials. Seven members of the Sri Lankan team, the assistant coach, and the reserve umpire were injured. It was the worst attack on an international sports team for the Munich Olympics in 1972.

The world watched in astounded disbelief as the Sri Lankan cricket team were airlifted from Gaddafi Stadium in Pakistan Air force’s helicopters. They were put on the next available flight to Colombo. Sri Lanka went home and took international cricket with them. Although the Sri Lankan team and ICC officials were the victims at the time, the Pakistan team has been the victims ever since. This great  cricket nation became a cricket’s first homeless team

The Pakistani Captain Younis Khan has said, he would have withdrawn from international cricket immediately had he been caught in the kind of terror attacks carried out on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.You read about these unfortunate incidents in the papers or catch it on TV, but when it happens so close to you, it is difficult to fully comprehend.He had appealed to cricket’s administrators to save the game in Pakistan, or risk pushing future generations into the grasp of terrorists. The Pakistan captain fears that an extended boycott by touring teams could lead to a dramatic decline in interest and participation in cricket among the nation’s youth. That could invite corrupting influences to fill the void that might otherwise have been occupied by sport. Maybe in the future we will be alone as a cricketing nation and that would be very deplorable, especially for the youngsters.For six years, no cricket team agreed to tour, and they were forced to run their home matches in neutral territory.

Misbah ul Haq became captain in the wake of two calamities. The foremost  was the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009 which  immediately condemned Pakistan to international isolation.

The second calamity took place the following year when the Pakistan team toured England. Three of its players ,the captain Salman Butt himself ,Mohammad Asif and brilliant young opening bowler Mohammad Amir  were entrapped by the News of the World. The team was disgraced and the three players involved were subsequently sent to jail. That was when Misbah ul Haq took over. He was not an obvious choice as skipper. He held a mixed Test record, and was not even selected for the 2010 Tour, nor the one before in 2006.However he proved an inspired choice. He had just the right qualities to lead his team at its moment of supreme crisis. He anchored the batting time and time again and given his team a mental and moral example.He has been magnificently supported by Younis Khan  now Pakistan’s highest scoring Test batsman

Misbah ul Haq’s Test performance has been massively enhanced by the duties of captaincy. Before 2010 he  had scored 1,008 runs in 33 Tests at an average of 33.60. Since becoming Captain, he has scored a further 3,344 runs in 42 Tests, at an average of 56.68. He has won victories with an inexperienced attack since the loss of his former match winner, the spinner Saeed Ajmal, with a suspect action. When he led Pakistan to a 2 - 0 triumph over England last winter in the UAE, none of his bowlers had taken 100 Test wickets. Misbah now 42 became the oldest Test captain since the mighty Warwick Armstrong of Australia in 1921.

On 22nd August Misbah ul Haq’s Pakistan team have risen to No. 1 in the ICC’s Test rankings for the first time. They took the top position from India. Last week was the second time in less than a year that Pakistan had moved to No. 2 in the rankings. They had featured at No. 2 for the first time in November 2015.Pakistan have at times dropped as low as seventh, last doing so in February 2010, but since Misbah-UL-Haq took over the captaincy at the end of that year, they have climbed steadily.

For us, the No1 ranking is not a destination, merely part of a journey. Our long term objective and strategy is to remain competitive, continue to challenge the top spots with good cricket and once again become the most followed side like the Pakistan teams of yesteryears. If we can achieve these on a consistent basis, then I am sure there will more laurels like this down the line,said Misbah.

The rage of Pakistan fans has flashed a billion times since the attack on Sri Lankan cricket team. Their land, their leader betrayed them. And even they are better than they have ever been. They are amongst the best in the world. No team has ever overcome more to become number one than Pakistan.


This blog was published in The Nation

We the people


Benazir Bhutto was one of the most charismatic leaders that Pakistan’s  politics had produced. Since her return home in 2007, she had been the target of at least three assassination attempts by elements linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban. She staged a series of mass meetings across Pakistan. She did that despite her aides  appeals for caution in the wake of a double suicide bombing that narrowly failed to kill her on the night of her return from exile in October 2007 which killed more than 130 people.

“We will continue to meet the public,” she said as she visited survivors of the bombings at a Karachi hospital. “We will not be deterred.” One cannot take part in democratic life from behind walls,I am not like bin Laden or Mullah Omar, to run and hide in a cave. I have to be with my people.

“I know death comes. I’ve seen too much death, young death.”  Benazir Bhutto

She  was one courageous ,secular and liberal women leader Pakistan will always be proud of,a daughter who knew the tribulations of cloistered confinement, a sister who outshone her brothers by carrying forward her father’s legacy,a young bride who supported her husband , a mother who did not let pregnancy get in the way of politics, an leader  who could easily move with her people regardless of their race, religion, gender  or status.

In 1988 she became the most powerful symbol in contemporary politics for women,as she became the first elected female head of the State in Muslim World.She exemplified  the normalisation of women in politics and immediately countered invisibility of women heightened under Zia’s military rule. She lifted press censorship.

When I met Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto in December 1989 just a month before Bakhtawar’s birth she was coming back from Multan after monitoring Military excerci ses, I asked her why is she soft on Pakistani print media (in Zia’s regime newspapers were just pro-Zia while in her times it was totally opposite) ,she replied;

This is because of the suppression of 11 years of brutal military rule ,let them take out their frustration , this is the difference between democracy and dictatorship , we are here to strengthen democracy.

She left me speechless but in another interview she confessed ;

I can deal with political differences, but how do you deal with it when someone says I don’t like you because you’re a WOMEN and you have taken a man’s place. I found that my opponents reduced themselves to verbal abuse rather than discuss issues. My identity comes ultimately from being a women and I felt that my life has to make a difference to the lives of other women. I was brought up to believe that a women can do anything that a man can.

The Muslim extremists  not ( Islamists ) killed Benazir Bhutto. But they shouldn’t be allowed to kill Pakistan’s hopes for democracy. In her willingness to meet a violent  death,she may give courage to other women and convince them that its worth risking their lives for the future generation.

More power to ladies like Asma Jahangir,Bushra Gohar,Sherry Rehman,Hina Rabbani Khar,Saman Jaffery,Shereen Mazari,Nafisa Shah,Farah Naz Isphahani,Maryam Nawaz,Fauzia Kasuri,Marvi Memon,Sara Tarar,Sharmila farooqi,Syeda Shehla Raza and many more

June is the month of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s birthday ,may I request you all to celebrate her  by celebrating what she said in December 1988 ;

We gather together to celebrate freedom,to celebrate DEMOCRACY,to celebrate the three most beautiful words in the English language: “ We the people”


The journey, not the destination…

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