Author Archives: Aasem Bakhshi

Meet Nadir Khan, the Cobbler from Bajaur

by Aasem Bakhshi

Nadir Khan, the cobbler from Bajaur who sits at the corner of my street, carries the kind of iconic baggage usually associated with cobblers from Sufi folklore and mystic literature. His character inspires me, his sensibilities vex me and his paradoxes keep me engaged with mine.


Being well aware of each second he lives, Nadir Khan spends a quarter of the year with his family in village, another quarter busy earning on a footpath in this metropolis, and another in the way of Allah, as he finds it to be. My self proclaimed wisdom and religious pragmatism is forced to zilch in front of his embodied response to time. Continue reading

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Filed under musings, Pakistan, Religion, Society

Are there any moral standards independent of God’s will?

By Aasem Bakhshi

Socrates: If that which is holy is the same with that which is dear to God, and is loved because it is holy, then that which is dear to God would have been loved as being dear to God; but if that which dear to God is dear to him because loved by him, then that which is holy would have been holy because loved by him. […] But you still refuse to explain to me the nature of holiness. And therefore, if you please, I will ask you not to hide your treasure, but to tell me once more what holiness or piety really is, whether dear to the gods or not and what is impiety?
Euthyphro: I really do not know, Socrates, how to express what I mean. For somehow or other our arguments, on whatever ground we rest them, seem to turn round and walk away from us. (Euthyphro, Plato’s Dialogues) Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Philosophy

A ‘desi’ desire for Aman ki Asha

by Adnan Shahid (Courtesy: The News)

I am a proud Pakistani. I wear my national identity openly. But I am also a strong advocate of Indo-Pak peace. In 2004, I had the opportunity to work on a short term consulting assignment for a multinational oil and gas company in Delhi. Relations between the two countries were then lukewarm at best. But I still felt the warmth at the personal level, which reinforced my belief in the need for people-to-people contact. Continue reading

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Filed under India, Pakistan, Pakistan-India Peace Process

A Soldier’s Soliloquy: Can a Person Refuse to Fight?

by Aasem Bakhshi

…if called upon by the government to do so. Thomas Hobbes would concede this right with some limitations and John Locke would probably deny. And even though Lockean tradition is superior in terms of social contract theory, I tend to take refuge behind Hobbes, considering the Leviathan I am subjected to in my part of the world. But I am still not sure how to tackle this question, which albeit still at some distance, is moving towards me while staring ceaselessly on my face.

While the angst is becoming unbearable and the masochist within me is yet again alive after so many years, I ramble inveterately in search of judgment. Continue reading

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Filed under musings, Philosophy, Religion, war

Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan (RIP)

by Aasem Bakhshi

Dr Farooq Khan The news is just coming in that Dr. Muhammad Farooq Khan, a renowned writer, columnist, religious scholar and Vice Chancellor of Swat Islamic University, has been murdered (along with his assistant) by unknown gunmen as he was coming out of his clinic in Mardan. May Allah bless his departed soul. Here is an obituary from a local TV Channel website:

Dr. Muhammad Farooq Khan is a recognized writer, columnist, and intellectual throughout the country. He is also known as a religious scholar and competent TV compare. He was born at a village, in the district of Swabi. He obtained his elementary education at his hometown. Then he joined Cadet College Hasanabdal, and later on the Cadet College Kohat. After having acquired the degree in medicine, he decided to specialize in psychiatry. He established his private practice in Mardan. Some of his works include “Pakistan and the Twenty First Century (Urdu)”, “The Struggle for Islamic Revolution”, and “What is Islam”. God has bestowed upon him the quality of presenting his propositions in simple language and clarity of style.

Dr. Khan was associated with Al-Mawrid, an Islamic research organization lead by Javed Ahmed Ghamidi . He gained media limelight and became a center of controversy for his allegedly unorthodox views on permissibility of music. Most of his works can be downloaded from his website. Clipping from the talk show where he shared his views on music is linked below: Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan, Terrorism

Is it easy to fill the God shaped hole at the center of our souls?

By Aasem Bakhshi

Contrary to common Muslim perception, Islamic tradition does not hold a unanimous conception of God; furthermore, being able to believe in an omnipotent, perpetually creative and law giving Deity demands clarity of conception, which is intellectually laborious and demands extraordinary dedication.

The foremost act in religion is the acknowledgment of Him. The perfection of acknowledging Him is believing in Him; the perfection of believing in Him is acknowledging His oneness; the perfection of acknowledging His oneness is pledging loyalty to Him and the perfection of pledging loyalty to Him is denying attributes pertaining to Him, because of the qualities of His creation that could be attributed to humans. Everyone of them is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus whoever assigns attributes to Allah recognizes His like, and who recognizes His like regards Him as dual, and who regards Him as dual recognizes parts of Him, and who recognizes parts of Him has mistaken Him. Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Philosophy, Religion

The Bible of Militant Atheism

by Aasem Bakhshi

nullContrary to the mainstream religious belief, incredulity and skepticism regarding the ultimate nature of truth, existence of God and eschatological claims of scripture is not an entirely modern phenomenon. In his famous thought experiment Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, Ibn Tufayl the famous Muslim philosopher of 12th century Spain, aesthetically described discovery of God as the “joy without lapse, unending bliss, infinite rapture and delight” and inability to find Him as “infinite torture”. The curious and always speculative protagonist of the fable remains incessantly engaged between cosmological antinomies such as those put forward by contests between classical Greek eternalism and scriptural creationism; or the ones related to human origins such as spontaneous generation (understandably so, considering the scientific milieu of 12th century) or simple creationism as proposed by orthodox religion. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Philosophy, Religion, Science