Thursday, 21 October 2010
I will not repeat here what I have already written in the blog’s sidebar (see ‘400 Volts Jolt’) but suffice to say that facing the imminent danger of having years of my work vanish overnight, on the night of 16 October 2009 I began to copy all the material from a certain website (which remains damned, literally and in the fullest literary sense).
As I did this, another writer who openly criticised the exploitive policies of western governments saw his work wiped off the same website’s archives. The website had hit back without a warning—much as I expected it would—where it hurt that writer most but it failed to injure me because I pressed the ejection button at the correct time. I also stopped contributing at the same website in order to concentrate on getting my own blog up and running.
It took me two full weeks to copy all my work and within a few days I learnt all I could about blogging. With conviction in what I wrote and a decent following to further encourage me, the timing was perfect for jettisoning the used first stage and propelling all efforts beyond cyberspace’s blogosphere.
On 02 February 2010, after a few months of beta testing, I announced my blog to the public. 8,900 hits later and having spent one year in the blogosphere, my work lives on the blog, categorized under the following three headings:
1. Chowk articles (things I had written since September 2000)
2. Chowk blogs
3. Blogs you’ll only find HERE
The last category caters to original material not published elsewhere on the internet.
The first blog came out on 04 February 2010 and whose title was a twist on Oscar Wilde’s famous quote ("That awful thing, a woman's memory!”): That Wonderful Thing
Right after announcing the blog I headed for FaceBook which undoubtedly helped attract more readers, many of whom I found interested in reading text more than a line long.
Even today the pessimists ask, “So, what exactly have you achieved with your dark socio-political satire?”
Do I need to prove through statistics what I have achieved? Must I look at people’s faces for a reward? The pessimists do not bore me; it is the naive optimists who provide me with satirical thoughts. Only if a certain intelligence agency, whose motto it has unfortunately become, does not interfere globally with the whole truth, ‘the truth shall set you free’.
It feels great to maintain a mailing list through which I am able to inform keen readers about new articles on my blog. The old layout and colour scheme recently received a complete makeover; the blog now has RSS (‘really simple syndication’ through which one can know, via the browser, whenever new material gets added) and Google chat too.
‘Writer’s Block’ is a terrible disease that seems to afflict almost every literary person at least once in a lifetime but perhaps by the word block, I do not mean stop or hinder but rather a chopping board of ideas. The blog is a record of my time, of thoughts turned into digital ones and zeros. They may not outlive the Egyptian hieroglyphics in terms of longevity but they will live until the globalists decide to end our freedom of speech picnic in cyberspace.
So how does it feel after having done it for a whole year? Wonderful is one word that comes to my mind. My blog has also very kindly been listed under the esteemed category of Webblogs/Think Tank at http://www.mazhar.dk/
I wish to sincerely thank all my readers and helpful friends who still visit my blog to comment on issues, and suggest changes in a well-behaved manner. I hope that you will continue to enjoy what I love writing about in this space.
And now for the awards:
Most Visited And Commented Upon blog: Noah's Flood And The 9/11 Eid
Top Referring URL: http://www.mazhar.dk/
Top Referring Website: Facebook
Windows Users: 93%, Mac Users: 3%
Country That Most Reads My Blog is: USA (Pakistan is 2nd, England 3rd and India 4th)
Most Interesting Keyword Search: “what does TGH mean”
Saturday, 2 October 2010
The women’s plan is very cute by Arab standards; they will launch a campaign under a novel slogan: "We must either be allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners".
Breastfeed foreigners?—we have no such precedent in the entire human history, leave alone that of monotheistic religions. With the annual Muslim pilgrimage around the corner, the ladies could not have chosen a better time to press on with such a demand. For the clean-shaven rulers, it is a worrisome trend because such overt protests are unheard of in the ultra-orthodox Arab land.
Gulf News has already reported that ‘women intend to turn a controversial fatwa (religious ruling) to their advantage and launch a campaign to achieve their long-standing demand to drive in a conservative Muslim country whose name we shall not mention lest our hunting grounds lose monetary patronage of these oft-invited dignitaries.
“If our demand is not met, we’ll follow through the fatwa which allows us to breastfeed our drivers and turn them into our sons”, said a veiled woman.
A housewife commented, “Our decision follows a fatwa issued by a renowned scholar who said that ‘women can breastfeed their foreign drivers for them to become their sons’, and since every family here needs a driver, our campaign will focus on women's right to drive.”
Who issued this strange fatwa? It was a member of the council of senior scholars and an adviser to the ruler, who sparked this interesting debate. With such a controversial ruling emerging from under the Shaikh’s abaya, I do not see the man remain an advisor to the ruler for long.
The Shaikh said, “Our women can breastfeed their foreign drivers for them to be become their sons and brothers to their daughters. Women can breastfeed mature men so that they become their sons. In this way, they can mix with their daughters without violating the teachings of Islam.”
Nevertheless, what does it mean? As understood by the female population, under this all-new relationship, foreign drivers can mix freely with all members of a family without breaking the local rule, which does not allow mixing of genders. Breast milk kinship is considered to be as good as a blood relationship in Islam but never equal in status. Adopted sons can never usurp the rights of real sons, rules the Qur’an.
Interestingly, the Shaikh based his fatwa on a Hadith (saying) of the Prophet Mohammad (peace on him) which was narrated by Saleem, the servant of Abu Huzaifa. Later, the Shaikh clarified that his ‘fatwa was distorted by the local media which ignored the condition that the milk should be drawn out of the woman and given to the man in a cup to drink’.
“The fatwa is ridiculous and weird, and it has become a hot topic of debate among women. Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers?” said a number of local women speaking to Gulf News while condemning the fatwa.
Another woman questioned, "Does Islam allow me to breastfeed a foreign man and prevent me from driving my own car? I have not even breastfed my own children, how do you expect me to do this with a foreign man? What is this nonsense? The fatwa should also apply to the husbands who should be breastfed by housemaids. By doing so, all will be brothers and sisters.”
A female Arab writer sarcastically asked the Shaikh, "Can the women breastfeed the driver in the presence of their husbands or can they do this alone? Who will protect the wife if the husband entered the house unexpectedly and found his wife breastfeeding the driver?"
It all started when Dr. Izzat Attya who is the head of the department of Hadith in Al-Azhar, which is the world’s most prestigious Islamic University, issued a fatwa (religious opinion) which declared it 'legitimate for a working Muslim woman to breast-feed her male colleague to avoid the sin of khulwa (staying with a stranger in one room).’ Many shaikhs in Middle-Eastern countries have issued similar fatwas in the past by, but this is the first time it has come from a high-level academic of Al-Azhar.
However, there is more to the story, a journalist for an electronic newspaper recalled how an Egyptian driver got infatuated with a female teacher he drove to school daily and finally asked her to breastfeed him. When she retorted angrily, he said, "I want to be your son."
Since Shakespeare claimed ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’, one must never underestimate the wrath of repressed women. In the preceding paragraphs, we have read how they have mockingly challenged the so-called religious ruling. Handing out driving licenses to chained women might be wiser; having hungry hordes of male drivers at one’s doorsteps lining up to be bottle-fed with mother’s milk is the folly of the century.
After having read the ladies’ comments, I think I now need to retire as a satirist. These are dangerous times for the affluent inhabitants of Pakistan and India, and my advice is to examine all applicants for the domestic position of a chauffeur. Earlier, one needed to worry about their salaries, the food and accommodation, but now one might need to consider their craving for mother’s milk.
I believe hordes of jobless drivers from the Indo-Pakistan region will now begin to beg for cups full of adopted mothers’ milk and work permits since nobody told the poor old Shaikh that milk does not ooze from women’s breasts on men’s or the government’s demands. In any case, women have breasts placed on women’s bodies for the nourishment of infants; their being small or over-sized need not bother grown men. As a man, if you do not believe me, ask any infant who can speak. But then infants are clever little angels who remain mum over matters relating to breast-feeding mummies.