Sunday, 12 September 2010
Before I went to the mosque this E’ed morning, I sent nearly two hundred short messages through the mobile phone to all the relatives and friends. Thus far, I have received almost a hundred reciprocal greetings. Back in the old days, we bought E’ed cards for the near and dear ones, wrote inside the cards what we truly felt and went down to the post office to affix real stamps on the envelopes. Now everything is boringly instantaneous and digital. They claim digital is convenient but I say it is impersonal and most of what one does is destined for the computer’s recycle bin. Hence, when I delete all those E’ed messages sent to me, I cannot ever pull some nice cards out from the cupboard twenty years later and wonder how life was in 2010.
People seldom get creative with prayers so they sent me ‘showers of blessings’ and ‘unlimited bounties of God’. My original SMS to them was simple: "Have a sober E’ed. Too many blessings are a test". Actually, none of them saw in my message what I wished to convey and continued sending me tried and tested replies. The odd thing was that as I stepped into the shower, I could feel the spray of blessings—less the Bounty chocolates. On this E’ed, the Imam (prayer leader) for the E’ed prayers only asked the good Lord for forty-nine items; last year I counted sixty-five must-have things. I uttered a quiet ‘Aameen’ to most of his demands, and at some I smiled because God Almighty could not be expected to grant us world domination while we gleefully disobeyed His direct orders.
Nevertheless, really, is there festivity around us? Last night I drove down to the old city and noticed that the roads had a haunted look. Up until last year, one found it hard to move about due to late night traffic congestion—such would be the festive mood. The shoppers’ attendance at the malls was thin and perhaps the urban population, tired of giving to the flood victims, preferred staying indoors due to the fear of facing explosive terrorism at crowded places.
In addition, exactly nine years after American 9/11 (‘good for Israel’) happened, Muslims are celebrating E’ed on September 11. Some will mourn, the rest will rejoice, this is the way of the world. An American pastor is dilly-dallying whether he ought to publicly burn copies of the Qur’an to protest against 911 (actually, to enrage Muslims globally), while NATO soldiers in Afghanistan have killed Muslim protestors; such is the ebb and flow of Time. As for the recent flood in Pakistan, the citizens and the foreigners are quite tired of handing out aid because disaster after disaster follows us around.
A German friend asked, “I contributed one hundred Euros; what if you face the same situation next year and the year after that?”
I had no satisfactory answer to the pointed query; indeed our aid-fed government failed us five years ago when a massive earthquake shook Pakistan’s northern areas. The government did not rebuild, it gobbled up aid, it became a spectator to the irony of free aid items sold openly on the streets, and it did nothing to prepare us for the next jolt.
We have the flood now that has drowned out nearly half of Pakistan, destroying standing crops, separating children from parents, killing relentlessly, and causing millions to assume the status of displaced persons. I wonder if the media is really helping the situation with its neck-breaking headlines. The TV anchors, interruptive and loud as they are, seek opinions of the ignorant who utter a now familiar mantra: “Nobody from the government is here to help us!”
The government cannot survey and airdrop aid packets over such a large expanse of land unless it utilizes all its resources that are being utilized to serve Project American Wet Dream. I wonder what happened in the Mogul era. Did the rural folks send carrier pigeons with SOS messages tied to their feet or did they despatch fast horse riders to Delhi—the seat of power—to seek royal flood relief? No, nothing of the sort happened because after many months when the news probably reached the royal ears, the reagent regarded it as punishment meted out by the Hand of God to sinners; the most that he probably did for them was forego the agricultural tax for a year. And people fended for themselves or emigrated to get their lives back in shape.
In this age, our government requires a huge machinery to run—one that runs us over every step of the way to real progress. Members of provincial and national assemblies and senators with dubious educational qualifications need to be bottle fed with perquisites such as armed guards, bulletproof cars, protocol services, foreign tours, and free pilgrimage trips to the Holy land. Petty bickering, inter-departmental squabbling, idiotic participation in the G-WOE (America’s Global War of Error), and the inability to pass a single law with unanimity which might uplift the condition of the downtrodden, these are only some of the favourite things these men do non-stop for themselves at a great cost to the exchequer.
Is there a God Perspective to the flood? The destruction appears to be a repeat telecast of the pre-historic flood of Prophet Noah (Nuh). It is clear that sinners do not mean much to the Creator, and though we see their sobbing faces on the television day and night, let us see what might be their intentional and unintentional sins.
To begin with: murderous family feuds that span over decades; property disputes that feed the lengthy and costly legal system; committing ‘shirk’ (creating partners with God) by begging dead saints for help (this is the only sin that is marked out as ‘unpardonable by God’ in the Qur’an); never questioning those they help into offices; always voting the same looters into power; not moving together as a nation, and siding with the enemies of the country and religion. Have we missed something?
So how does God really see the violators? His Word is the command and let there be no doubt that the Word right now is: DESTROY. When the character of a nation fits into each abominable definition given in the Qur’an and it remains heedless and unrepentant, no matter how much one prays for the welfare of this Islamic state, God will do what He has promised the rebellious. To ask Him for the forgiveness of sinners attracts even more Wrath.
“How can that be?” you might ask. The Qur’an explains the entire moral lesson in the following verses from chapter 11:
(11:42) At that [moment] Noah cried out to a son of his, who had kept himself aloof [from the others]: "O my dear son! Embark with us, and remain not with those who deny the truth!"
(11:43) [But the son] answered: "I shall betake myself to a mountain that will protect me from the waters." Said [Noah]: "Today there is no protection [for anyone] from God's judgment, save [for] those who have earned [His] mercy!"
And a wave rose up between them, and [the son] was among those who were drowned.
(11:44) And the word was spoken: "O earth, swallow up thy waters! And, O sky, cease [thy rain]!" And the waters sank into the earth, and the will [of God] was done, and the ark came to rest on Mount Judi.
And the word was spoken: "Away with these evildoing folk!"
(11:45) And Noah called out to his Sustainer, and said: "O my Sustainer! Verily, my son was of my family; and, verily, Thy promise always comes true, and Thou art the most just of all judges!"
(11:46) [God] answered: "O Noah, behold, he was not of thy family, for, verily, he was unrighteous in his conduct. And thou shalt not ask of Me anything whereof thou canst not have any knowledge. Thus, behold, do I admonish thee lest thou become one of those who are unaware [of what is right].”
(11:47) Said [Noah]: "O my Sustainer! Verily, I seek refuge with Thee from [ever again] asking of Thee anything whereof I cannot have any knowledge! For unless Thou grant me forgiveness and bestow Thy mercy upon me, I shall be among the lost!"
There you have it, plain and simple from the Creator Himself! To expound upon in detail the entire moral lesson will require one more article on this site—something that I am better off postponing until the next ‘natural disaster’. Now, by quoting the above verses, I do not advocate that the rural majority be left alone to die helplessly; surely, there are innocent and pious people amongst them. The question now is not how do we understand God’s family planning move but rather how do we brace ourselves against repeated punishments?
Shall we ask the djinns, which the fake holy men claim they control, to build us dams and reservoirs overnight? Should we not repair and fortify our extensive irrigation system? Must all of us pay yet more taxes to the flooded folks—something that we did in the past to help East Pakistanis (now Bangladeshis)? Even Bangladesh has announced it will build more dams and reclaim land from the sea. India already has dozens of dams with their spillways pointed at us—just in case we refuse to watch Bollywood-meets-Hollywood movies.
Billions of tons of river water empties itself in the Indian Ocean each year during the monsoon season, how can we harness water to generate hydel power and also use it for humans and plants alike? We need huge foreign investment, which means more compound interest, more economic subjugation and gradual destruction. The real landholders in this country are the feudal families whose hold over the poor farmers has remained unchallenged ever since 1947. Many of these lustful families have destroyed their adversaries’ lands by diverting floodwaters to save their own palaces and cultivable areas. In addition, the foreign aid the politicians shamelessly seek in our name is actually the bribery of foreign governments who push their satanic agendas in regions they have no business being in. These and nothing else are the bitter facts.
Do I have a grand solution then, a Moses’ like strategy that liberates my people? Thinkers need not be confused with doers.
Thursday, 2 September 2010
This is the month of Ramadan (Muslims remain without food and water from before dawn until sunset) and with so much happening in the world, sometimes it is hard to pick the subject for a fresh blog. Hence, I do not face a writer’s block but only fatigue that requires rest. The Eid festival marks the end of the month long fasting, which is announced upon sighting the crescent for the Islamic month of Shawwal. For all religious events, Muslims follow the lunar calendar.
First came, the awful monsoon floods and all the destruction whose bill we all will be paying for the next few years. Then we saw the Sialkot killings of two young boys. And the cricket scandal in England in which Pakistani players were allegedly involved in shady deals. Just last night, multiple suicide attacks took place in Lahore and Karachi in which scores of Shi’a Muslims died or got injured while attending Ali ibn Abi Talib’s death anniversary. Considering the security situation, they all should have stayed home instead of publicly mourning the slaying of a great figure of Islam.
So what do we have here? One fifth of Pakistan is under water, the judicial system is in dire straits, our food chain is quite literally broken, flood-effected people are homeless, thousands are feared missing, out of frustration some are lynching others or attacking the custodians of law, suicide bombers are exploding themselves, doctors are getting themselves beaten up for professional negligence, and inflation is getting out of control. But do we not have broadband internet and FaceBook?
Does it not feel as if everybody wants to migrate to America? No, that is not true, no matter how much the ex-pats weep for their ex-compatriots; 170 million people still live here without having Green Cards. The end of the world is not around the corner and I tell the morose that despondency is never a problem-solver. Not crutches, but self-help is the answer; holding one’s proud head high is the solution. While the poor remain more patient and patriotic, the rich elites repeatedly sell them off to the lowest bidder.
And life goes on. Fashion show catwalks are alive with party animals, and a hundred TV channels continue spewing worthless breaking news. These news updates break peoples’ emotional backs because after sampling a dose, one feels like breaking open the skulls of the fast-talking presenters and those of the worthless commentators. Not much will be done, yet everything gets airplay for hours.
The mosques here are so full of the faithful these days, more so in the nights, because everyone is busy finding the elusive Night of Destiny (Laylat al-Qadr) during the last ten odd nights of Ramadan. The Qur’an claims in Chapter 97, verse 3: “The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months” because messenger Muhammad (peace on him) received his first revelations through angel Gabriel.
At the cost of admitting personal failure, I have not found one such night. I asked a friend if he had found it and he admitted he had. Then he narrated a Ramadan night’s tale.
“I saw a strange beautiful light envelope me for a few minutes around dawn. It wasn’t the sun or the stars, just milky white light that nobody else saw. I went to a holy man later on and he confirmed that I had been blessed”, he claimed.
As I probed his mind regarding the effect the light might have had on his life and on those around him, he became irritable and lost all composure that one expected from an almost holy man. Soon thereafter, I left him alone, for he was a lost man who needed to find a truer night than the one that he claimed he had seen.
It is getting dark now and I must switch on the lights around the house; these will be energy-saving lights. I must work hard in my laboratory to soon invent face-saving lights.