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