Once there was, and once there wasn’t…

Elif Shafak (Elif Şafak) is the strongest voice among the contemporary Turkish writers and/or female writers globally. Her unique style of writing, storytelling and narrating is one of a kind. I have been reading her since I got one of her most acclaimed book “The Forty Rules of Love” as a gift from a very close friend, someone I trusted with books.Elif_shafak

I have always been a big fan of Rumi and yet I hadn’t read anything on his life. I always had heard of Shams and yet I had no idea what it meant to be Shams, and what was the whole story behind the mere narration. In her book “The Forty Rules of Love” Elif Shafak approaches the story from a brand new perspective and narrates it to the readers with both sweetness and bitterness and adds a flavour of love, she quotes forty different rules of love throughout the book. It is one of the few books which I did not need a bookmark for. In fact, this book quenched my thirst of curiosity on Rumi, and what made him the person he became.

The second book I read from Elif Shafak was “The Bastard of Istanbul”. In this exceptional book of her Elif shafak for the first time paints two very deep issues in a very deserving canvas, the Armenian genocide and the Turkish identity – pre and post Ataturk. Shafak confronts and openly criticizes her country’s violent past in relation to the Armenian genocide of 1915 which eventually results in her being sentenced to three years in prison for writing on the “forbidden” issue. Reading the book, many questions comes about in one’s mind. Another interesting fact about this book is that the humour is priceless and amusing. There are some very funny and heart-rending moments in the narration, one cannot decide whether to laugh or to sob. Continue reading


Turkey’s role in the conflict of Kobane

Kobane, though located at the border with Turkey, is the heart of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan).  The recent events in Kobane have drawn global attention and have put Turkey’s role in the conflict under criticism.

Kobani is also called ”Ain El Arab” in Arabic because of the Arabisation process under the Baathist regime. The population is mainly Kurdish with minorities of Arabs, Assyrians and Turkmens.  Since the start of civil war the Democratic Union Party of Syria has had the control of the town, the group called PYD in Kurdish is closely affiliated with PKK in Turkey, hence not favoured by the Turkish government.

The Islamic State militants, after advancing extensively in Sunni populated areas in Iraq and then not being able to advance in Autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq and suffering severe defeats from the Peshmarga Kurdish forces there, planned to attack the Syrian Kurdistan and control the strongholds of YPG/YPJ (People’s Protection Units) which is the military wing of PYD. Currently, the town of Kobane is surrounded by the Islamic State militants from three sides and Turkey on the fourth side. Turkey has allowed the safe passage of civilians to Turkey (which should not go unappreciated) but hesitates to allow Kurds from Turkey to join forces with YPG/YPJ in the town and help defeat the Islamic State militants. Furthermore, it is believed that the Islamic State militants get reinforcement and funds through Turkish soil and the Turkish government is keeping a blind eye on it. Even though it is a hugely debatable issue, there are quite a few facts supporting the claims.

The Kurdish people have taken to the streets around the world in the last few days and are demanding for a neutral role of Turkey in the conflict and are asking the Turkish government to allow the passage of Kurdish fighters to Kobane. However, the global media has been narrating it differently and are giving the message that the Kurds want involvement of Turkey in the conflict, which is utterly not true. It is understandable that getting involved in the conflict is not an option for Turkey yet, but Turkish involvement in supporting the Islamic State is unacceptable. Continue reading

Believers of other sects may visit their own Masjids

I always wonder how many types of Muslims are there, specially according to the Muslims living in the west. There are the liberal Muslims, there are the moderate Muslims, the not-so-moderate Muslims, those who look moderate but are extremist Muslims, those who look like extremists but are peaceful Muslims and then there are the apologists who aanjem-choudaryre everywhere, on TV, on facebook or on twitter acting like they are the “real Muslims” and that they have found the only right path and that Israel is the true mighty and powerful evil.

On the other hand, according to the Muslims living in the so-called Muslim world the classification is easy, you can know what kind of a Muslim a person is just by looking at how he offers the Salah (prays) or which Masjid (Mosque) he goes to. In case of women it is easier, you actually don’t have to observe the women, you just have to know the sect of her father or husband or in some cases the elder brother. Sometimes the colour of the turban or the way the turban is tied on the head helps too, I personally always liked the green turbans, it looks cool and they never asked me to sign up for Jihad unlike the black turban people who were always interested to make us sign up for Jihad, pack up, go to Kashmir/Afghanistan and meet the 72 virgins waiting for us impatiently.

Those are the places where no Muslims need to be apologetic about what those “Pious and practicing” Muslims do (I mean Osama and the gang, Baghdadi and the brothers and Mullah Umar and the students). In our economically prosperous Muslim world our debates are not about economic growth or about eradicating poverty or about provision of health services, it is about which sect is wrong and which sect is right. As a matter of fact, these are the most important issues, what if one is in the wrong sect? what if you hate the infidels (Shias, Christians, Jews, Russians and of course Indians) less than the others? I did forget one other important issue, we always talk about not using Jewish products (that includes almost everything e.g. Nike, Adidas, Pepsi, Always, Lu biscuits, condoms, Laptops, iPhone, good quality toilet paper, US dollars etc.) and that we should not drink Coca Cola because it reads “No Muhammad, No Makkah” if you read it backwards in Arabic with some customization here and there, and we discuss these while drinking from chilled coke cans.

The sign on the door of our Masjid (Mosque) in Peshawar reads “Bahram main Ahle-Hadith Masjid, believers of other sects may visit their own Masjids, in case of any problem the Masjid committee will not be responsible.”

P.S. Why a picture of Anjem Chaudary on this post? Because I find him stupid and honest.

The birth of a new Islamic State and slavery

Who would think of women being sold for as less as $10 in 2014? If you haven’t been too busy with the news on Gaza you might have heard that it actually happens every day in the Middle-east. Yazidi Kurd, Assyrian and Christian girls are being captured, enslaved, raped and sold out openly in Mosul, now the de facto capital of the Islamic State. upload

The dramatic rise of the Islamic State and declaring the Caliphate might not seem as shocking to people who have no idea what it really intends to do than to the people who are facing them in Iraq, Syria and Kurdistan. Christians are being labelled and then coerced to pay taxes, accept Islam or die in cold blood. The same is happening to the Yazidi Kurds, who follow an offshoot of Zoroastrianism (or an independent religion linked to Zoroastrianism). Hundreds of Yazidi men were captured and massacred in one day and their women and girls raped and enslaved. Many of them spent weeks on the mountain of Sinjar without water and food till they were rescued by the Pishmarga Kurdish forces. Twelve-year old girls had to take arms and fight for their honour, for their freedom and for humanity.

What is frustrating and most bothering is that there is no voice of condemnation from the so-called Muslim world, all one hears is the statements released which acknowledges IS (Islamic State) as a non-Islamic group and that religion has no role to play in the conflict. Why is it very important to clear the image of Islam than to condemn the atrocities? Why doesn’t the murder of Non-Muslims by Muslims cause an outrage in the Muslim world? Why is it that they believe IS is created by Israel (though they fail to provide any evidence/fact)?

Continue reading

Interfaith Harmony in Pakistan

The fall of interfaith harmony and the rise of extremism and violence against minorities in Pakistan dates back to the 70s. Certain events played a major role in the rise of prejudice against Non-Muslim religious minorities, Muslim minority sects and Ex-Muslims.

Declaring Ahmadi Muslims as Non-Muslims in the second amendment to the constitution which resulted in killings of hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims and marginalising them in the society.

The infamous Anti-Blasphemy law, which is questionable in itself, further facilitated the misuse of the law against the Muslim and Christian minorities and facilitated the abuse of law on false bases.

The huge support that the Pakistani establishment provided to Jihadi groups in Kashmir and radical Taliban and establishing their bases in Pakistani soil facilitated the growth of extremism and radicalism in Pakistan and resulted in the establishment of Tahrik Taliban Pakistan and its sympathizers in banned groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba and popular political parties such as the Jama’at Islami. As a result, the public was infiltrated with extremist ideas and the hatred towards minorities reached a peak level.

The failed attempts of Musharraf and People’s Party government to control the rise of militant groups further strengthened these groups and helped in increased popularity of the groups among religious public of the Deobandi and Salafi(Wahabi) sects of Islam.

The rise of Deobandi extremists resulted in targeting the majority of Barelvi Sunni Muslims in addition to Shia Muslims.

Islam and Freedom of speech and thought in Afghanistan

Whenever “freedom of speech and thought” in the so-called Muslim world is discussed, it is always seen as a very debatable issue, assuming there is flexibility in Islam that could guarantee freedom of speech and thought. It is nothing but a wishful thinking and some gaps to be filled on a 24 hours media. In reality, all Abrahamic faiths and their teachings are antitheses to the assumption, including Islam.

Therefore, many Muslim apologists in the West and a handful of them in the Muslim world claim the compatibility of Islamic law with international Human Rights laws which is an absurd claim because some Muslim apologists divide the Muslim jurists (فقها) into two categories: Pre-modern Muslim jurists and Post-modern Muslim jurists. The Post-modern jurists (only a few to be found throughout Islamic history) believe that Islamic principles are “neither rigid nor stagnant and can in fact be applied in evolving situations.” In fact, this is nothing but a self-created method of bending Islamic principles as needed.  As a matter of fact, there has been no serious debate on certain vital issues, such as Apostasy and Blasphemy, which makes Islam very incompatible with International Human Rights. Continue reading


“Globalization as defined by rich people like us is a very nice thing… you are talking about the Internet, you are talking about cell phones, and you are talking about computers. This doesn’t affect two-thirds of the people of the world.” (James Earl Carter)

More probably in the above comment, James Earl Carter talks about globalization in the sense of “Globalization as Technological and Social Revolution” (Simon Reich http://kellogg.nd.edu/publications/workingpapers/WPS/261.pdf). Most commonly or in the general sense globalization is defined by its process. To understand globalization it is important to understand the process of globalization.

“The globalization process involves the establishment of economic, political, social, and technological links among countries.” (Hamilton and Webster http://www.oup.com/uk/orc/bin/9780199213993/hamilton&webster_ch01.pdf). Looking at Globalization from the bigger aspect as defined here we could see that Carter’s comment only can be true or assumed to be true in the technological aspect. The economic, political and social effects of Globalization are completely ignored. Continue reading