Daily Archives: December 16, 2008

The monster in the mirror

The Mumbai attacks have been dubbed ‘India’s 9/11’, and there are calls for a 9/11-style response, including an attack on Pakistan. Instead, the country must fight terrorism with justice, or face civil war

Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy

Azam Amir Kasab filmed on CCTV inside the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station in MumbaiAzam Amir Kasab, the face of the Mumbai attacks. Photograph: Reuters

We’ve forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching “India’s 9/11”. Like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we’re expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it’s all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that if it didn’t act fast to arrest the “Bad Guys” he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on “terrorist camps” in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India’s 9/11. Continue reading

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Poetry of revolt

Amarjit Chandan recollects his conversations with noted Urdu poet Habib Jalib here

Habib Jalib’s poetry, along with that of Faiz, was invoked in the recent pro-democracy agitation in Pakistan. He visited London twice — first in the summer of 1988 when his collected works were launched. He was in his element and enthralled his admirers with his poetry sung in style both in private and public gatherings. Four years later, he visited again. He was suffering from what turned out to be his terminal ailment. He was under intensive treatment for various ailments in Cromwell Hospital and then moved to a hospice before returning to Lahore, where he died a few months later.

Habib Jalib
People’s poet Habib Jalib during his first visit to London in 1988 Photo by the writer

BORN in 1928, Habib Jalib was 12 when he left his ancestral village Miani Afghana in Hoshiarpur district. His first hijrat (migration) was to Delhi with his father in search of work. After six years he started his second hijrat of his own will to Pakistan. After reaching Lahore from Karachi in 1956, he started moving in the progressive literary circles. A process of disillusionment with the ideology of Pakistan had just begun.

His first collection of Urdu poems, published in 1957, was aptly titled Barge-e-Awara (The Rootless Leaf). After that he published nine collections, the last one being a deluxe edition of his collected poetry Harf-e-sar-e-dar (The Word at the Gallows) published by Urdu Markaz London — a subsidiary of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. He asserts that his personality, poetry and politics are one: “I haven’t spent my life in a basement or on an island. It’s in my character to be on the Continue reading

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Filed under Literature, poetry, Urdu

Members, One of Another:Gender Equality and Justice in Islam

“Members, One of Another:
Gender Equality and Justice in Islam”

By Riffat Hassan

Department of Religious Studies
University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

What I will say may surprise both Muslims who “know” women’s place and non-Muslims who “know” what Islam means for women. It is this: I am a Muslim, a theologian, and a women’s rights activist, and while I am critical in a number of ways of the life that most Muslim societies offer to women, twenty years of theological study, as well as my own deepest faith, convince me that in real Islam, the Islam of the Qur’an, women and men are equals. Liberating ideas lie at the heart of most enduring faiths, and Islam shares in these. Two themes in particular strike me as being of the highest importance. The first is the fundamental equality of humans before God. The other is religion’s revolutionary aim of human liberation. From religion should come freedom to seek understanding of the will of God and life’s purpose, and freedom to honor God’s creation through self-development and striving toward God’s ends.

Unfortunately, most Muslim societies also mirror a fault that has been noted by feminist theologians in cultures shaped by other religions: the gap between rhetoric of equality and the reality of profound inequality between the lives of women and men. While Muslim women continuously hear the refrain that Islam has given women more rights than any other religious tradition, they continue to be subjected to grossly unequal treatment. Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Justice