Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Monthly Archives: October 2009

Recipe for Confusion

I was supposed to go to my University today but I didn’t and this is why: two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the International Islamic University in Islamabad. Six people fell victim to this heinous crime while dozens were injured. One of the attackers actually disguised himself and managed to get to the girls cafeteria where he detonated his bomb. Following the incident, schools, colleges and Universities will remain off till Sunday, across Pakistan.

Pakistan
The first thought that comes to mind is how low could the attackers and their planners get that they could attack students with such impunity? What were they thinking? How did they justify it and put their consciences to sleep – that t00 for so-called “religious” causes?

There’s another belief that all such attacks on Muslims in Pakistan could never have been carried out by fellow Muslims. Such ideas are backed up pieces of evidence indicating direct as well as indirect involvement of “foreign agencies” in a highly complex scenario of vested interests driving a myriad of events.

Unfortunately,  with all the bloodshed, we now have a highly confusing situation on our hands that is certainly dividing the nation. I receive messages and emails from fellow Pakistanis urging people to recognize the “real” enemy and not be “deluded” into thinking the Taliban are behind the killings. Such people exhort the Taliban and whoever supports them, believing them to be the ultimate savior for Muslims in Pakistan (and even across the world!).

Surprisingly, some even believe the Taliban is in fact an extension of foreign agencies’ evil schemes and thus, such people would lump up the Taliban as one big conspiracy too. Thus, “Muslims could never kill Muslims like this” is their mantra every time a vicious incident takes place.

However, if you talk to refugee families from the conflict-ridden areas, they will tell you how people they initially thought were their helpers and leaders (Taliban, etc.) turned upon them later on. Extortion, kidnapping for ransom and routine harassment then exposed the true nature of these people to the innocent villagers. The common people admitted their mistake of initially lending their support to these Muslim brothers “in the name of Jihad” but later had to suffer themselves.

So what is going on? Why is all of this happening? What are the motives?

I’ll admit I do not have a single clue as to the real situation. I do know we have Muslims with totally distorted ideas of killing other Muslims “for the greater cause”, whatever that is… so I will not attempt to turn a blind eye and glorify them. I also know there are vested interests out to secure their interests, just as was done in Iraq. I also know there are common criminals who jump into the frey whenever confusion abounds to see what they can possibly get out of it in terms of wealth and power.

However, the biggest problem in all of this is that we do not know the truth and because of that, I cannot possibly stay united with my Muslim sister, for example, in her claim that we must “fight the enemy” when I am not even convinced the enemy is one single, definable entity.

Some people have twisted notions of battles in the name of Islam and their brains have become totally addled by all the war hype. Such are the people who totally sadden me: lacking direction, driven by vague ideas, making no sense when they speak and seeing things as either “black” or “white” and thus oversimplifying the entire complex scenario. In fact, this was what led me to write this right now – the madness that is driving the educated people in this nation today.

A confused mix of “religiosity”, nationalism, pessimism and a tendency to see a conspiracy in every tiny thing – that’s what’s going on. The Qur’an and the Sunnah, the wisdom that is required and the need to refrain from knee-jerk responses have all been forgotten. Why don’t people open their eyes already and realize the common Pakistani Muslim is not what they are glorifying him to be? Why don’t they realize we have so much work to do, to being people to the practice of Islam as taught by the Prophet(pbuh) and not drag them off into half-baked ideas of “martyrdom” all stemming from nationalism? Most of all, why don’t people realize all this confusion only helps the original enemies of Islam who have opposed it from the time of the Prophet(pbuh)?

To set things back on the right track, the Pakistani Muslim first needs to free himself of such baseless notions of “Pakistan is the bastion of Islam”, ignoring all the un-Islamic acts that he commits in his daily life. How many Pakistanis actually offer the five daily prayers in the masjid? Killings, “honor crimes”, lying, cheating, corruption, ignoring traffic rules, domestic abuse all happen in Pakistan. If you don’t admit it, you’re never going to change and there are no “short cuts” available.

Whatever is going on today, only one thing is for sure: Allah(swt) is the Only One Who is aware of the real situation and we ask Him to guide us to what is right for us. Yes, we Muslims have failed miserably in our duties but, in seeking to improve upon our knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah and implementing it in ourselves, spreading it in our areas of influence, we can find the right way again.

The important thing is Hikmah… wisdom. If we lose this, as many people are demonstrating to, may Allah protect us!

Deception

Deception

I didn’t know what to do just then. My mind was totally blank for a moment… exactly when I needed it to work the most. I stared at the mobile phone in my hand, with a partly composed message to my teacher. I had to tell her I couldn’t make it to class today. Yes, that’s what I had to do.

Midterm exams are closing on. I hadn’t done my laundry and it would be hard to find proper clothes for going to the class. I looked around at my room to buy some time and spotted my college books. I remembered the difficult day at college I’d just had and grabbed my head in my hands. Why was it so difficult to do this? Why not skip class and study for the exams?

I’d missed last week’s class too. I stayed home and studied that afternoon and slept a little too… but every glance at the wall clock reminded me of what my fellow students would be studying in class, while I had held back. Later that week, a couple of days ago, I had heard a wise person say, “you only make time for things you really want to do.” How true that had been and the guilt underneath the surface had bubbled up, as if it was there just waiting for a trigger!

And today, I was again faced with the same dilemma – should I stay home? The exam is only five days away, a voice in my head reminded me.

“Yeah,” I thought. “But I guess I could spare three hours and study more over the coming days to make for it.”

The voice in my head changed to a different reason – clothes not ready.

“Yeah,” I thought. “But I could wash a dress quickly… still got about an hour and a half before class starts.”

And your unfinished assignments, which you have been lazy about? Just don’t go, you can always do them this week and give them the next rather than showing up without them!

“Well but…”

I then thought of what I’d be missing and the voice quickly said I could always catch hold of my classmates’ notes. And my help-out duties after the class? The voice in my head quickly suggested I message a fellow classmate to help out with that.

“Okay…”

Besides, the voice suggested, look at what you’ve become! You’re so “low” that you can’t really get any lower. All these classes, have they really had any effect on you? It all bounces off you! You go, you listen, you come home – end of the story! Even now, you’ve reached such a point that you can’t decide which deal’s better for you! Come on, one more missed class won’t kill you.

“But I wasn’t like this before! I knew my priorities, I used to jump at opportunities to get to the class, among such classmates and now, I’m debating between lousy midterm exams that won’t even be marked in the final grade this semester and my class, which is priceless?”

I turned the mobile over, feeling miserable. I’d have to go ahead and do the dreaded. I poised my thumbs to complete the message to my teacher, trying to think of words that wouldn’t sound lame. I paused again. Something was just not right. Ameera, you’re not who you used to be…

NO! This. Is. Not. The. Right. Thing. To. Do!

Each word was punctuated by my thumb tapping on the mobile – somehow, the message I had half-typed out symbolized the wrongness of the situation and as such, needed to be singled out for a bashing.

You’re mad, the voice in my head shouted at me in disbelief. It almost shook my resolve.

“No, I need this the MOST right now!” I said to the voice. “I need to be as far away from you as I can right now! Yeah… yeah, I’ll find clothes. I’ll do the assignments… I’m going!”

I jumped up, rummaged through my cupboard, quickly washed a shirt I wanted to wear and tossed it into the dryer. I grabbed the half-finished assignments and started completing them. I typed one out on my computer within ten minutes (sometimes, typing is faster than writing it out with a pen). I ironed my clothes as quick as possible, assembled my books and soon was on my way.

Two hours ago, I came back from the class. It was like a fresh breath of air, not at all how the voice kept trying to convince me it would be. I needed to be with my classmates, with my teachers. I needed to take that time to step back and take stock of my situation. The voice that kept holding me back wasn’t trying to help me at all! This week, I’ve been taking that voice’s advice a lot and oh, how I decayed and deteriorated because of that!

Go ahead, it used to tell me, and tell your sister how mean so-and-so was (a.k.a. backbiting). Forget the Sunnah and Nawafil this time. There’s still time to sunrise, you can sleep in a little longer. There’s no time for the Qur’an today, there’s too much to do, it would distract you. Shout at your sister, she won’t listen otherwise!

Go ahead, it prodded me and I listened to it, blindly accepting everything. Last week, I’d listened to a similar idea that voice had dangled before me tantalizingly – a Saturday off from the class… and I’d caved in. Not this week… Alhumdolillah.

Satan's Deception

When someone deceives you and you find out, that’s the end of any trust that existed between you two. But then, why is it that this voice that deceives me repeatedly, was responsible for deceiving my parents, Adam(as) and Hawwa(as) is my close aide, confidante and trustee? A voice that whispers into me ear, eager to see me lose out on all joy, is my chosen friend? Why is it that when I am at the verge of doing wrong and I know the voice is egging me on, I chose to listen to it rather than to what I know is right?

Writing it out helps. After all, if together we don’t write about the wrong that is done to us and we don’t expose deceivers, how will we recognize them the next time they dare cross our paths?

O mankind! do your duty to your Lord, and fear (the coming of) a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah.(Qur’an 31:33)

Breakfast at Dawn… or not?

airblue

Imagine boarding an airplane at 6:30 am to take a ninety-minute trip across the country. It’s just about sunrise and you vaguely wonder what the catering trolley will serve for breakfast. I’d probably even wonder whether they’d offer a choice between omlette and bread crumb-dipped potato rolls and what I’d choose. As the airplane takes off and gains height, you’ve finally found a comfortable spot in your seat and have just begun to flip through the in-flight program menu when you see the air hostesses bring out their trolley.

“Aha! Better choose a good program to watch with the meal,” you think and quickly scan the menu.

Slowly but surely the trolley makes its ways down the isle and finally it’s your turn.

“Juice or soda, madam?”

Juice or soda?! Oh of course, it’s only the first round – how stupid could I be? They don’t serve the meal directly, it’s always a drink first, especially in decent airlines.

Choosing a fizzy orange drink, you settle back into your seat. Rumble…rumble… no, it wasn’t the airplane (Alhumdolillah!), it was your tummy asking for breakfast as the sun climbed up the sky.

Fifteen minutes later, the trolley comes by again and this time, you’re ready to receive your tray. The air hostess smiles down at you, extends her hand and… hands you a shiny little fluffed up packet of potato chips! What?!

“Uh, no thank you,” you smile politely, only partially hiding your surprise and also wondering how the airline got the idea of serving juice and potato chips before breakfast.

“No, no, please, have some!” she insists, wearing a dazzling smile.

“I’ll just wait for breakfast,” you almost begin to say but stop, wondering how silly it would sound… as if you were a three-year old who needed a timely meal.

“Oh, ok,” says the air hostess in a chirpy tone and moves on.

Twenty minutes pass. Tick tock… tick tock… according to the flight status indicator, you’ve just completed more than half the journey and will be at your destination in another three-quarters of an hour.

Tick tock… tick tock. That’s not your wristwatch anymore… it’s your “tummy clock”, clocking the number of hours it has been since your last meal.

Lo and behold! The trolley arrives again. Forcing yourself to smile at the air hostess (the reward for patience is Paradise!) while inwardly shaking your head at the poor service, you look up.

“Would you like juice or soda, madam?”

“No thanks!” you blurt out, partly in shock and partly knowing, in some corner of your mind, that you’d known it would happen exactly like that.

The trolley moves on. Thirty minutes to touchdown and now, you’ve given up on breakfast altogether. Suddenly, you remember the half-finished packet of chocolate chip cookies in your purse, rummage for them and quickly down them, wondering how they’d have tasted with a piping hot cup of delicious tea. Just as you are busy brushing off a wayward crumb from your dress…

“Tea, madam?”

The trolley’s back again! But you’re trained now. You shake your head, mumble a “no, thanks!” and busy yourself deleting off all the useless messages in your mobile inbox.

Somebody in the row ahead of you impatiently asks for a customer comment card. Then there’s another one asking for the same. You smile. Some people air their views directly to the air hostesses  who point out they are only employees, following the company policy. Someone asks for the airfare to be reduced if the service is to remain poor. Suddenly, breakfast at dawn is the center-point of the criticism.

“Ha! So I’m not insane for asking for breakfast!” you smile with satisfaction, your ego partly satiated.

Rumble… of course, your tummy’s still hungry. Maybe the airport pastry shop still serves those delicious eclairs… what flavor topping should one choose? Chocolate or strawberry?

—————————————————

The story above is actually based on a very real, extremely similar episode, recently witnessed by a reader on this blog, Sammy, on a domestic flight in Pakistan, aboard one of the newer and supposedly better airlines. This just goes to show, new isn’t necessarily the best!

On and the chips served were Lays potato chips… to every passenger, young and old. Fascinatingly low, isn’t it?

7 Benefits of the Niqaab

So there I was, heading home from college in a rickshaw, trying desperately to hold on to my seat and also retain possession of my bag while the dupatta on my head was flying about, despite a safety pin to secure it in place. What else should happen just then other than that a motorcycle passes by and the person seated behind the driver turns his face a full one hundred and sixty degrees to stare at the “girl in the rickshaw”. One glance and he’s on to next car or rickshaw in the vicinity, confirming the fact that silly men continue to stare at even modestly dressed or covered women.

“Ha! Let’s make things difficult for you!” I thought and lightly draped one end of my dupatta across the lower half of my face, just enough to make me feel momentarily comfortable with the new set up. However, it got me thinking along some comical lines… benefits of the face veil. In the rocking rickshaw, I jotted down a few points I came up with and here I’m sharing them with you. Please know this is not at all a proper article about the plus points of the Niqaab but it’s simply light hearted stuff to share.

Niqaabi

  1. You friend says something that angers you and you make a rude face. Your friend spots the expression and is hurt or retorts angrily in return… oops, major problems in the long run. But for a Niqaabi, you can never see their whole facial expression except the widening or narrowing of their eyes, which of course could be attributed to the sun shining brightly, etc. I tell you, it’s not a joke, I’ve noticed this with some friends and really… my expressions can turn off people but theirs’, no way, they are “naturally immune” to that problem.
  2. You can chew gum in class without the teacher noticing.
  3. You missed breakfast but you can chomp on anything in class if you keep side-way jaw movements minimized.
  4. You can yawn in class out of total boredom without the teacher noticing.
  5. A large, totally embarrassing pimple appears on the tip of your nose but you have to go to college or your job – no problem for the Niqaabi!
  6. Everyone’s concerned about catching Flu virus version 2.0 and scrabbling to buy funny masks while the Niqaabi just looks on amusedly.
  7. Something stinks! Yeah it does but only you can smell it… your Niqaabi friend’s protected.

Add more, be totally creative and come with suggestions better than the ones I’ve put up! I’m looking forward to it! =D

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