Many people find it difficult getting into the spiritual state that Ramadan requires and complain in the last ten days of the great month that their month has gone to waste. A major reason for this it seems is that they assume that Allah would have Muslims worship him one month of the year! Whilst worship is a daily affair, Allah would have us worship more in some months over others. Furthermore, the righteous, in understanding the importance of Ramadan, would want to be as prepared as possible, and as a result, would begin preparation two months earlier in Rajab!
Abu Bakr al-Balkhi said: The month of Rajab is the month for planting, the month of Sha’ban is the month of irrigating crops, and the month of Ramadan is the month of harvesting the crops. He also said: The likeness of the month of Rajab is that of the wind, the likeness of Sha’ban is that of the clouds and the likeness of Ramadan is that of the rain; whoever does not plant and sow in Rajab, and does not irrigate in Sha’ban, how can he reap in Ramadan? Now that Rajab has passed, so what will you do in Sha’ban if you are seeking Ramadan? This is how your Prophet and the early generations of the ummah were in this blessed month. So what will you do?
Sha’ban is the month where last year’s account of good and bad actions for every individual ascends to Allah. As we know, there are four instances when our actions ascend to Allah: the daily record, weekly record, yearly record, and the whole life record.
It is reported that Usamah b. Zayd said:
“I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Sha’ban.’ He said, ‘That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.’”
The difference between last and this year is that a whole year of your life has passed. A whole year of more than 350 days of actions recorded. The actions of the days are recorded, not neglecting any hour, nor second of each day. Therefore, sit down and try to reflect on what you did in the past year and try to remember the actions that will be put forth in front of Allah.
In this year, many people have made Jannah obligatory upon them due to the good they did, while others have made Jahannam obligatory upon them due to the evil they committed. Have you wondered which of these two types of people you are?High levels in Jannah have been achieved by people who have used their time wisely, yet we remain where we are, still unable to fulfil the obligations as commanded by Allah, still unable to pray on time, still unable to pray in the Masjid. When is the time for us to wake up from this heedless state and realise what we have done and repent and ask Allah for forgiveness?
You may be asking, “What do you want me to do now?” Brothers and sisters, every day that has passed in this previous year has been an extra chance for you to do good, and now that you have looked back at what you have done and what will be put forth in front of Allah, it is time to realise that Allah has blessed you by letting you live until this day. So many people have died during the past year, yet Allah has let you live, and even let you read this reminder to encourage you to turn back to Him, so now is the time to do so.We are now in Sha’ban, so make sure you make full use of it, and repent and seek forgiveness from Allah for all your sins and shortcomings, so that they are forgiven before they ascend to your Lord. Sha’ban is a month which many people neglect. Imagine you are worshipping Allah at a time which many people neglect, and when Allah looks at His creation during that time, only a few humans are engaging in worship, and you are one of them. Sha’ban is a time of fasting, as the Prophet used to fast the majority of this month, so ensure you follow his Sunnah and increase in fasting. Also, make sure you prepare yourself for Ramadan by increasing in qiyamul-layl, reading the Qur’an, offering voluntary prayers and making constant dhikr, so that when Ramadan comes, you are fully prepared for it and are already used to doing righteous actions.
Forced marriage in Pakistan
Two minor Hindu girls (sisters) were allegedly kidnapped and forcibly married after being converted to Islam in Pakistan’s Sindh province, triggering protests by the minority community. The two girls, 13-year-old Raveena and 15-year-old Reena, were allegedly kidnapped by a group of “influential” men from their home in Ghotki district on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the Nikah (marriage) of the two girls. Later another video surfaced in which the two sisters claimed they embraced Islam themselves and no one forced them to covert or get married. The Hindu community in Pakistan has carried out massive demonstrations calling for strict action to be taken against those responsible, while reminding Prime Minister Imran Khan of his promises to the minorities of the country. Hindu community apart, the incident did cause outrage in the majority community in Pakistan as well and there were demands of legal action from various political and social groups against the kidnappers and their helpers. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan again set an example by ordering inquiry into the incident. Imran Khan ordered the Sindh and Punjab government to work in tandem to retrieve the girls and arrest the people involved in the incident. It is quite encouraging that the police in, both, Sindh and Punjab have launched a manhunt to track down the alleged perpetrators. Six persons, one of them main suspect as also the so called Molvi who solemnized the marriage, are reported to have been arrested while the efforts arrest other involved persons were on. It goes without saying that minorities, in most of the countries in the world, are the victims of majoritarian-hood. They are harassed and humiliated by the members of the majority community every now and then. Pakistan is no exception. However, what makes the difference is the response of the state to such shameful incidents. Since the rise of Imran Khan to the highest seat of governance, the minorities in Pakistan feel a hope in him.
On completion of his 100 days in office, Imran Khan, in an address to his nation, assured equal rights for all citizens of Pakistan irrespective of region and religion. He even took a dig on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “We will show the Modi government how to treat minorities. Even in India, people are saying that minorities are not being treated as equal citizens”. Three days later, on Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s birthday, Khan tweeted, “Quaid envisaged Pakistan as a democratic, just and compassionate nation. Most importantly he wanted our minorities to be equal citizens. It should be remembered that his early political career was as an ambassador for Hindu-Muslim unity”. That makes the Pak Prime Minister’s intentions known. But intentions need to be put into action. Though Imran Khan has ordered inquiry into the kidnapping and forced marriage of the two Hindu girls but he needs to bring discipline in his government at the lowest level as well so that such incidents do not happen at all. The Mullahs and Molvis of Pakistan also need to understand the basic values of Islam. Quran strictly prohibits of forced conversions and marriages. “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong” (Sura-Baqra, verse 256).
Islam is a religion of plain and clear directions. It is the choice of the person to accept or reject it. Nobody shoulf be forced to accept Islam. Forcing non-Muslim women into marriage is not only violation of Islamic teachings but also tarnish the image of the Allah’s religion. One hopes that Pakistan government, in particular, and Pakistani society, in general, adheres to the true spirit of Islam and do not become the cause for other people to curse this religion based on social justice, compassion and truthfulness.
Taking the bull by the horn
Peoples Democratic Party President Mahbooba Mufti’s decision to contest from south Kashmir parliamentary seat could be termed as a bold and calculated. Bold; because she knows it for the fact that she is the most unpopular political being in Kashmir presently. Calculated; because she knows she is taking on a first-time political nominee. Mahbooba Mufti is competing against National Conference nominee and former high court Justice Hasnain Masoodi. This is Justice Masoodi’s first rendezvous with politics. He is not known to a vast majority of people across the board. He has remained out of public gaze during entire career. However, it was in the last days of his career that he caught public and political attention. In October 2015, while presiding over a case about Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Justice Masoodi gave a landmark ruling on Article 370 of Indian constitution which accords special status to the state. Justice Masoodi, in his judgment, said that Article 370 was a permanent Article and it could not be altered or aborted. The permanent status of 370 is facing a challenge in the Supreme Court by some hard-line Hindu individuals and groups. Justice Masoodi’s retired from service just two months later, and again went off the public minds. Mahbooba Mufti is counting on this weakness of her NC rival. But despite this, it would not be an easy walk for the PDP President.
Mahbooba Mufti is facing a sort of political isolation presently. She is the most disliked person in party bastion, south Kashmir. Since its rise to power in 2002, south Kashmir has remained a stronghold of the PDP. The PDP has won all the parliamentary election held since 2004 from south Kashmir. In Assembly elections too, the PDP won majority of the seats in south Kashmir (10 in 2002, 12 in 2008, 10 in 2014). But everything changed in 2016 when a mass rebellion against Indian rule began in the wake of Hizb commander Burhan Wani’s killing by government forces. Hundreds and thousands hit streets to mourn the death of Wani. Government forces used all their might and power to crush the rebellion. Over 100 persons, mostly young school and college going students fell to the bullets of government forces. More than 15,000 other persons were injured in pellet firing by government forces. Hundreds of them were hit in eyes losing eyes sight, some of them permanently. Hundreds others were brutalized by use of other muscular means. Mahbooba Mufti not only watched the brutality as a distant gawk but also justified the use of force. She defended the killing of the people in streets and said when people attack some formation of security forces, it would evoke reaction. On one occasions, she crossed all borders while justifying these killings saying “what for they (those killed in police firing) gone there. (Who kiya doodh aur toffee lene gaye thay, she said. The withdrawal of support by the BJP that led to the fall of Mahbooba Mufti government struck further blow to her party. That led to dozens of senior leaders and former minister of the PDP to leave the party and join other parties or form their own one. Mahbooba was virtually living in political seclusion. It was, however, her arch rival Omar Abdullah who gave her a new life and brought her out again in the political limelight. As a move to block central government’s move to dissolve assembly in November, Omar Abdullah declared support for formation of the government in the state by joining hands with PDP. Though the move did not materialize as central government played spoilsport but it definitely provided Mahbooba Mufti a corridor to come of the isolation and take the central stage. Though people have not forgotten yet the reign of terror they faced in her regime but she has since been trying to refresh her relationship with voters in south Kashmir. By taking the challenge of facing the election in person shows her renewed confidence and conviction
The muscular policy
Central government’s power-driven Kashmir policy is touching new zenith. After Jamaat-e-Islami, the government banned Yasin Malik-led Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) under ‘anti terror’ law on Friday. The outfit has been declared outlaw for promotion of secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. The JKLF chief Yasin Malik has been arrested and lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail. Yasin Malik is also likely to face penalty by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and confiscation of foreign exchange recovered from him. The adjudication proceedings against Malik have already begun. The ED, on Friday, imposed a fine of Rs 14.4 lakh on Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani for “illegally possessing foreign exchange of around $10,000”. A Delhi court, last week, allowed ED to quiz Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah and others in connection with an alleged funding case. Shah has been in Delhi’s Tihar jail for the past more than a year on charges of being involved in hawala funding. Delhi has gheraoed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as well. He has been summoned by National Investigating Agency (NIA) to appear at its Delhi office in connection with investigations regarding alleged hawala funding in Kashmir. Mirwaiz, however, has refused to attend the Agency’s Delhi office for security reasons, and instead he sought the case to be shifted to Srinagar and offered his full cooperation. Earlier, the government withdrew security of all the Hurriyat leaders including Mirwaiz as a measure to tighten screws around separatist camp. The other known face of the separatist camp Shabir Shah has been in jail for over a year on the allegations of hawala funding. Masarat Alam Bhat, a key leader of Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference has been in jail since 2010. There is a grapevine in political and media circles that the central government might come with some more strict measures against separatist leaders. Banning the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and Jamiat-e-Ahl Hadees is seen as next step New Delhi might go in for.
But would it resolve the problem is a question that needs to be thought over? This is not for the first time that such harsh measures are taken by the government. In early 90s, when militancy first surfaced in Kashmir, almost all the political outfits on the separatist were reeling under ban. Thousands, not just hundreds, of political activists and common people were facing incarceration. This was coupled with a ferocious campaign by government forces against militants. Extrajudicial killings and random arrests were order of the day. Almost 10,000 have gone missing under the custody of the forces. Such measures are still in force, and at times in harsher way. The frequent and fierce use of pellets and bullets against civilians is a common practice. But this has never helped the government anyway nor would it help in future. The policy makers in Delhi need to rethink their Kashmir strategy. They are again and again using the formulas and prescriptions which have already failed, and are bound to fail again. One more reason that the policy makers in Delhi must take into account is the growing world concern over the happenings in Kashmir. India and Pakistan have just returned from the brink of a nuclear clash. International opinion is catching up with the fact that it was Kashmir that pushed the two countries towards the war. It continues to haunt the minds that allowing the issue to remain simmering is dangerous for the world peace. Bombs and tanks shall not bring peace. These will only bring destruction. Before the international community intervenes, New Delhi should take the initiative and shun its muscular approach in Kashmir. Instead of banning and jailing parties and peoples, policy of rapprochement and reconciliation should be given the chance. Government of India should open the channels of dialogue with Kashmir as also with Pakistan. That is the only way forward. Muscular approach has failed in the past it shall fail in future as well.