The ban of Muhharrum processions in Kashmir is clear violation of religious rights of common citizens. On a day, observed with great reverence and religious passion, the authorities in Srinagar held people hostage in their houses in and around Lal Chowk on Wednesday. The shops and business establishments are closed and the pedestrian movement completely restricted in Lal Chowk, Abi Guzre, Court Road, Koker Bazar, Maisumma, Bund, Gaw Kadal, Red Cross Road and other surrounding localities. People from outside localities too were not allowed to enter the area. It is completely a curfew-like situation not just around Lal Chowk but in areas coming under seven police stations in uptown. Men in uniform from the police and CRPF have been deployed in large numbers to restrict the peoples’ movement. All these repressive and undemocratic measures are being taken to check Shia mourners from taking out a procession. Members of Shia community used to take out a ritual procession on 8th of Muharrum from Abi Guzre to Dalgate. However, the state government imposed ban on the procession in 1988 following shia-Sunni clash in the wake of Pakistan President Gen Zia-ul-Haque’s death in a plane crash. Though the situation returned normal soon and the Shia-Sunni brotherhood remains the creed of our social fabric, the government continued with the ban over the years. The government used to take refuge in abnormal situation caused due to militancy. Now by government’s own standards the situation has considerably improved and there is no fear of militants mingling with mourners, there is no reason to ban the mourning processions. It is quite unfortunate that while all other religious prilmrimages are allowed with full security of the state, the Muharrum procession is not only banned but Shia members of put to all kinds of severity and repression to remain away from taking out the procession. Militants have never issued any threat to the Shia processions still government keeps a tab on it in the name of security. But that is not the case with Amarnath yatra. Militants have issued threats and even attacked Amarnath yatris on several occasions but government never stopped the yatra under the ruse of security threat. The government rather facilitates the yatra by providing different security covers—army, paramilitary forces and police—at different levels to make the yatra a safe journey. Why the same pattern is not practiced with regard to the Muharrum procession. Practising religion is a fundamental right and it is the state Governments responsibility to facilitate it, but sadly they are doing exactly the opposite. The state Government, in fact, is scared of these processions, as they feel it will be changed into pro freedom demonstration. In January 2008, the Kashmir based Shiite organisation Ittihadul Muslimeen filed a petition in the Jammu Kashmir High Court seeking quashing of the ban clamped by the former Governor but the state government did not respond. In December 2009, J&K high court once again directed the state Government to file the objection, but again did not get a response. It is extremely sad that when whole world promotes freedom of religion, our state Government bans the important religious procession. The procession is taken out to commemorate the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad’s (s.a.w) grandson Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s) and his 70 other family members and relatives at Karbala in Iraq at the hands of the tyrant ruler Yazid. It is the most effective psychological weapon and mechanism to mobilize masses against the evil, injustice and repression. What could be it said of when the state plays the oppressor and the subjects as oppressed.
India and Pakistan have missed yet a key opportunity to build relations. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s high-powered meeting held last week at Bishkek had brought together the Prime Ministers of the two countries. They could have turned it into a historic opportunity by laying foundation for a road to peace and friendship in the subcontinent. But the two leaders demonstrated the immaturity and juvenile behavior of college naughties by avoiding each other during the meeting. Both Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, along with other leaders, attended the opening ceremony of 19th meeting of the council of the heads of state of the SCO. Imran Khan and Narendra Modi entered the hall together however, they avoided each other while entering the meeting hall. Both the leaders also attended the dinner reception hosted by President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov in honour of leaders participating in the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). But they allowed this opportunity to go waste. Both the leaders were sitting a few seats apart at the dinner in the Kyrgyz capital. However, both of them didn’t exchange any pleasantries even as they greeted other world leaders at the multilateral engagement. It was on the second day of the meeting that Khan and Modi found some moments to shake hands and exchange some pleasantries. The two Prime Ministers had meetings with the leaders of all other participating countries on the sidelines of the meeting but avoided what could have proved crucial and historic. In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. He underlined the need for Pakistan to take concrete action in order to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue. Imran Khan is reported to have raised the issue of Kashmir with Russian President Putin during sideline meetings. This is sheer childish and infantile that the two Prime Ministers talked to other leaders but avoided talking with each other.
It goes without saying that India and Pakistan have some simmering problems that are weighing heavily on their relations. These issues—Kashmir being the main one—have potential of pushing the two countries to a devastating war as was seen in February in the aftermath of Pulwama suicide attack. But the leaders and people of both the countries know that they cannot afford war. Since both the countries are nuclear, there can be no limited war. It would be full-fledged nuclear war. Recent warnings by some keen experts have said that, at least, 10 crore peoples with die in a war between India and Pakistan. They have also warned that besides mass death, there could be a nuclear winter for at least three to four months in the subcontinent which could have furthermore deadly consequences. When war is not an option, the Indian and Pakistani leadership have to realize the importance and urgency of dialogue. They cannot live with problems for ever. Problems are to be sorted out and resolved through sustained dialogue. It is unfortunate that despite knowing the importance of dialogue, the two countries are avoiding it. Some recent gestures when Pakistan opened its air space for over-flight of former Indian foreign minister Suhsma Swaraj and its willingness to open the space again for Prime Minister Modi on way to Bishkek, had generated a glimpse of hope that the two countries were opening up for each other but Prime Minister Modi avoided to use Pakistani air space that further dampened the already murky atmosphere. India and Pakistan have to rise above the domestic requirements and compulsions of politics and realize the importance of dialogue in larger perspective. It is anybody’s guess that this compulsion will force the two countries to sit on the table. But earlier the better
India-Pakistan battle royale
The battle for ICC world cup going on currently in United Kingdom has caught the imagination of cricket fans world over. Even as around a dozen matches have been played between playing teams so far and keen battles have been witnessed in them but what makes the tournament most interesting is the match between India and Pakistan. The match is scheduled to be played on Sunday—the 16 of June. The dismal performance of Pakistani team has disappointed them hugely. It appears that the Pakistani cricket has reached to its proverbial ‘nadir’. The loss of Pakistan against Australia and West Indies is a case in point. Losing or wining is a part of the game but the way Pakistan lost was abject surrender. Pakistan displayed the most disappointing performance in their opening match against West India. Its batsmen fell like pack of cards just for 105 runs. The Pak batsmen fell within 22 over. Pakistan’s bowling attack is considered one of the best in the cricket world. But against the West Indies batting line, they proved no more than club cricketers, and West Indies won by seven wickets. Pakistan’s second match was against mighty and the cup-favorite England. As unpredictability is part of Pak Cricket teams psyche, they trounced England harrowingly. England might not have expected Pakistan’s brilliant performance, both, with the bat and the ball given their abject surrender before not-so-powerful West Indies team. As the win against England gave one a reason and confidence to believe that the Pak team might make it a habit of winning, it faced yet another defeat at the hands of Australia. Its fourth match against New Zealand was canceled due to incessant rains on the venue. This way Pakistan’s performance has been quite erratic so far.
As against this, Indian team is in high spirits. India has won all the two matches it has played so far. The third one washed out by rains gave one point to each team. India’s opening pair is in terrific form. Shekhear Dhawan scored a century in the last match against Australia helping the team to score 352, which made the team ultimately to win by 34 runs. But the bad news for Indian team is that the prolific opener suffered thumb injury in the match which made him unfit for other three or four matches. However, India has no dearth of talented batsmen. Right from up-line to middle order to down-line India has long line of batsmen who can score runs.
Pakistan’s worry stems from yet another source. Its captain Sarfaraz Ahmad has proved an average player. He not only lacks the qualities of a good captain but his batting power too is below the mark. His leadership moves during the match with Australia were poor. He let his tail enders to face the wrath of Australian bowling attack by taking single run on the very start of the every over resulting in the easy dismissals. But still everything has not been lost for Pakistani team. It has still a chance to bounce back. Pakistan has some talented players in the team who have the potential to turn the tables against any team. In Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riyaz, Shaheen Afridi, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali and Imad Waseem, Pkistan has a great bowling attack. They have the ability to undo any bating line. The Sunday clash would be between the best bowlers and the best batsmen. The Pak team needs to forget their differences and come with a single unit to take on their opponents in the remaining games. That is the only thing that can keep the hope of Pakistan’s comeback alive on Sunday.
Let the Spirit of Ramadan remain
We observed Eid-ul-Fitr by saying farewell to the blessed month of Ramadan and reflect on how our devotions through Ramadan have effectively impacted on our attitudes, our relationships, our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our souls.
As Muslims, we are well aware that Islam has always been a comprehensive and an all-embracing movement. It has at the head of its program spiritual development, sincere devotion, observance of divine guidelines, sustaining a wholesome environment, reform of human society and empowering of human beings. An essential component of the mission of all prophets has thus been reinstituting of the natural balance and the implementation of social justice [Qur’an 57:25]. We are inheritors of that prophetic movement; a movement that, of necessity, has to be relevant.
We need to realize that the relevance of Islam is not determined by the importance we as the “faithful” assign to our faith, but rather how our all-embracing faith responds to the realities of our times.
Relevance is not measured by teaching the shahaadah (testimony of faith) to a starving person, or merely praying for those who are impoverished or simply by cutting off the hands of the thief. Relevance is rather determined by the desire to feed the hungry at the time of need, alleviating the suffering of those in pain at the time of hurt and the general commitment to remove the need to steal. The relevance of Islam depends on how the ummah practically engages the world. Other people see Islam through the Muslims, and if Muslims fail the world then Islam would seem to have failed.
We often feel a sense of ascendency primarily because Islam (in some areas of the world) is the fastest growing religion. But it has never really been about numbers, it has rather always been about ihsaan (goodness) and itqaan(excellence).
It is not what quantitative numerical position we occupy, it is what qualitative contribution we make. It is about bringing hope to those people or situations that may seem helpless. Prophet Muhammad advised; “Allah disdains hopelessness. It is incumbent upon you to take a hopeful stand with an intelligent resolve.” [Abu Dawud]
Nothing affirms our humanity more than our capacity to empathize. It is this frame of heart that enables us to feel the agony of the pains experienced by others, and to treat others as we would like to be treated, and to do our best to make the world a better place; one good deed at a time. Faith and religion can only truly manifest as leading positive forces if we as people of faith realize the need for the spiritualization of our being, the moralization of our consciousness, empathy in our attitude, and goodness in our conduct. Wise ones have said that faith is not manifested by mere wishing; rather it is rooted in the purity of heart and verified by beneficial action.
Ramadan is a level playing field wherein people compete with each other in good deeds and benevolence. During this blessed month, souls are trained in virtue and accustomed to dignity, they learn to disdain vices, sins and acquire all good attributes.
Whoever witnesses this month without gaining any of its rewards is indeed poor, and nothing cripples him other than negligence, laziness, procrastination, and false hopes.
However, what is appalling is to see some of those who were guided to do good deeds and take provisions from virtues during this month hastily destroying what they had built, and replacing good with evil. This is a gross mistake and shameful act in the true sense of the word and no remorse or apology will revoke it when you stand in front of your One Lord.
We must continuously be in the state of obedience of Allah, firm upon His Sharia, steadfast upon His Deen, so that he or she is not of those who worship Allah only during one month or only in one place. Rather, the believer knows that the Lord of Ramadan is also the Lord of other months, and that He is the Lord of all times and places, so he is steadfast upon the Sharia of Allah until he meets Him while He is pleased with him
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