Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Shallow Stuff

“You are the best Ummah singled out for mankind; you enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” 
(Quran 3:110)

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Every Sunday is the same – I pick up the newspaper’s weekend supplement and soon find myself digusted with its contents. The thick magazine that is issued every Sunday with the Dawn newspaper has several sections – columns by various writers, news about celebrities, new movies, fashion pages, song albums, gardening tips and technology updates. Very obviously, it caters to the middle class and elites of our society, the segment of the the population that actually reads the english language daily Dawn newspaper.

 Now, what is it that makes me fling aside the paper with disgust on a calm Sunday morning? Well, here’s how it goes: every weekend, I like to settle down with a cup of tea after breakfast for some enjoyable reading – after all, the magazine often has informative and even hilarious articles. However, over the past few years, there has been a growing trend for the newspaper to regularly feature columns and articles that poke fun at, and even challenge, some of aspects of our Deen. Coming from “Muslims”, it is alwaysunpleasant. There are many things a Non Muslim would say that we would brush aside as stemming from ignorance but when a Muslim says it out loud, with great aplomb, in a renowned newspaper, it is deeply saddening. I can never grow immune to that.

With the rebels wreacking havoc in the Pakistan under the guise of an “Islamic” movement, the media has shed a lot of light on the fallacies of their movement and often point out all the places these people are detracting from Islam. However, it seems as if many people have even taken this as an opportunity and a free license to air their long held, half-baked views on Islam in general, questioning and challenging even the most authentic and core principles of Islam. It is this phenomenon that has hit the newspapers too and suddenly, you have articles by every Tom, Dick and Harry talking of and even poking fun of religion and practising Muslims.

 

Nushaba Burney's Column - "

One of the hot topics in this age of capris-wearing and dupatta-shedding women is centered on women covering up. Dawn seems to be giving a lot of space to people who write on this. Every other week or so, some pointed reference or a whole article even is found devoted to this.
Why do you have to cover up? What are the benefits? How can women be ‘liberated’? That’s what it’s always about. Sometimes, there’s barely disguised venom, other times there are attempts to gloss over the whole thing with a seemingly neutral point of view, whereas it’s quite clear what the writer is trying to say. One particular writer wonders whythere is a new wave in the upper middle and elite classes to frequent Quran circles and cover up – yes, the writer’s a Muslim. She goes on to praise the young, hip Pakistani woman who dresses up in a “modest way” (read capris, sleeveless, no dupatta, etc.) without going all Hijab-ey!

 

Don’t these people stop and think for one tiny moment what they are challenging, what they are speaking against? It is the Quran and Sunnah the clearly spell out the laws, not any ordinary person and yet, many “Muslims” get away with such propoganda as the readers praise them for their “valuable points”, “eye-opening revelations” and what not. Really, if this isn’t contagious, I wonder what is?

Going beyond Hijab, there seems to be an unwritten policy to exclude from print all articles and comments that refer to religion directly with quotes from Islamic sources. Let’s not even go to Quranic verses or Ahadith, the very mention of the word Allah or and other religious reference in the article disqualifies it from being published. One of my articles was published last Ramadan, in which I had spoken about preparing for Ramadan. My article didn’t even focus on the “spritual” aspect of the preparation – it was about things like shopping early, making healthy foods and so on. When the article was printed, it was under the section of “Detox Diet”, altering the premise of the article quite a bit. Next, they had moved to edit out words like Sunnah, Taraweeh, Suhoor and completely cut out the tiny bit in the end where I had mentioned how, by preparing well, we could have more time for worship in Ramadan. To top it off, the article was illustrated with the image of a half-eaten burger that now looked like a cresent. Well ofcourse, isn’t Ramadan all about eating? I do not know what I was thinking when I attempted to point to something else!

As I said in my last post, we are a society teeming with contradictions and double standards. It’s easy to speak against religion when you are a Muslim because at the end of the day, you’re still a Muslim and no one’s going to boycott you if you play your words well. A’oodhobillah!  And we wonder why we are so downtrodden despite being “chosen” by Allah(swt) to lead the world in all that is good.

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4 responses to “Shallow Stuff

  1. BrownS July 8, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Subhanallah this is shocking. I knew there existed people like this but I had no idea these feelings are acceptable in mainstream media in Pakistan. This is just one ugly face of a many-faced deeper underlying problem.

    I think the real thing to ponder here is the absence today of structures that in the past would have prevented something like this from going mainstream. Structures like respect of the ulema, norms and values in society, institutions that empower practising Muslims, etc. It is the careful erosion of societal institutions over the past century and a half that permit this to happen today. Who has a voice today respected enough to make a case to the masses for the head-covering for instance?

    Another facet to this I think is that in the Indo-Pak Muslim community we started to focus so much on preservation of Islamic practices that we forgot about keeping up with transmission, and when we were challenged with modernity we didn’t have the tools to deal with it while preserving our way of life.

  2. Ameera July 15, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I agree with each one of your points – it is indeed the result of many factors that we have this situation today.

    Perhaps the most pertinent point here is that “Deen” became something restricted to the “Maulvi”. This man is called in to teach your children to recite the Quran (why can’t you do it yourself?), to conduct the Nikah of your children later in life… or in case some other marital issue arises (such as divorce). That’s it, really.

    Another factor is the polarization we see in our society – the middle class, in general, has a very specific picture of “Deen” beyond which they are not ready to think or rationalize. For example, checking in the Quran and Sunnah if a certain act is allowed is not done generally. The result… every person dictates Deen according to his “traditions”.

    I was talking to an elder Uncle a few days ago and he mentioned how he did not want his daughters to be corrupted in the modern ways. I thought he meant he wanted his daughters to dress properly, etc. He went on to clarify and said he didn’t want them to become “Mullani” either! I was left to wonder what he meant by Mullani, especially as he said practising Muslim women in the West become “Mullani” and that one should stay “normal”.

    At this stage, with the media locked down on the “moderate”, enlightened picture of Muslims (which doesn’t leave much Islam in it anyway), there’s little chance of talking sense through mainstream channels. However, private publications and circulations (there’s a “Jumuah” like magazine in circulation here for the past five years Alhamdolillah) are holding up the post. Also, as I mentioned in the post, a small but growing number of Islamic circles in the upper middle and elite classes is becoming noticeable… let us see which way the winds blow. May Allah have Mercy on us!

  3. Jawed Iqbal July 30, 2009 at 3:46 am

    I can understand your disgust at these so-called “enlightened moderates” who consider anything and everything that comes from the liberal/secular western democracies (including their flawed concepts of freedom) as precious and something to be copied.

    I’m sure you understand that this is not by accident. “Elitist” newspapers and media outlets like Dawn do not give these “intellectuals” prime space in their publications only because it’s profitable, but also because there is a not-so-hidden agenda within the secular circles of Pakistan to de-Islamize, so to speak, the populace of our nation who, for the most part, have a strong affinity with Islam.

    Now, to some this may sound conspiratorial, and a few will also reject this as emotional rhetoric. But ask yourself, why are these viewpoints – which were at the fringe a few years ago – are being pushed down our throats so ferociously? And of-course, when the speaker is disguised as a Muslim, all the better, because one can come across as sympathetic to society rather than a hostile outsider.

    The truth is, that there is an ideological warfare, a global battle, being waged against not just the religion, but the whole system of Islam. Truly, the dajjalli machinery is on the move. Repealing the Hudood laws, installing the most corrupt scums into government, the insurgency in SWAT and FATA, everything that is happening today is by design, there are no coincidences.

    But even after all of their efforts to malign the spiritual and sacrosanct character of Pakistani society, these “elites” are failing. As you mentioned, the intense desire for morality and divine guidance is driving even those in the upper echelons of power to seek something greater than what this material world offers. We are living in a transformational age, and InshaAllah, Pakistan will revert back to it’s righteous roots.

    In the words of the Blessed Qur’aan, “And they conspire, and ALLAH schemes, surly ALLAH is the best of schemers”!

  4. UncarvedJewel August 11, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I agree with you completely. Dawn does do that. One of my articles was recently published in Dawn and before writing it, I did want to put in the stand of both religion and law on the subject. But I was told to state the stand but don’t talk of religion or law in a direct way.

    So yes – if you want to write about something using religion as the first support, you have to resort to Islamic websites and magazines which don’t have a reach as wide as the national papers.

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