Music has had its detractors in plenty and the MMA government, foisted on the NWFP by Musharraf, had declared music to be a vice in 2002. Since then music has been treated as an enemy. It has been targeted regularly. The campaign first began in the form of attacks on shops and music centres. Then musicians, those gentle artists who soothe the soul, were threatened and they either fled or gave up their art. Some had to pay with their life. The website notes, “Imagine the world without music. Or imagine a world where we are told what to play, what to sing and even what we may listen to in the privacy of our homes. That world already exists in more countries than you might imagine.”Why the need for censorship? The link between music and politics is now widely recognised. -- Zubeida Mustafa
Firstly, music is a useless activity which in fact, is a state of passiveness. As we will explain in another article about gambling, the fact that such an inactivity, which is inherent in those so called professions, did not escape the attention of our religion.
Secondly, the benefit and pleasure taken from music involves a meaning of deep slavery in passion. Since Islam is the only enemy of passiveness and slavery in passion, an important duty of Islam is to search their traces in unexpected hide-outs. -- Mustafa Sabri
Seven centuries ago, Baghdad and Damascus were world financial hubs. The Arab world, under the Abbasid caliphs, had trade relations with all major nations from China to Italy. The Assyrians mapped out a road network to enable them to transport African ivory, Caspian furs and Indian spices across their empire. Two millennia before the advent of the dollar and pound sterling, the gold coin, Persian daric, introduced by Darius the Great, was the currency of choice from Greece to the kingdoms of India.
The Silk Road to China, the Amber Route to the Baltic, and the evolution of trade-linked cities such as Petra, Baghdad, Mecca, Sidon and Damascus were the centres of Arab power politics for centuries. From ancient times till modern days trade activities have always flourished in the region. -- Raza Elahi
Picture this: the place is Cairo, and two Egyptian women are eyeballing each other on the subway. One is dressed from head to toe in a burqa, and the other is wearing a hijab. The black clad woman asks the other why she is not wearing a burqa. The young woman points to her headscarf and says, “Is this not enough?” The woman in the burqa responds, “If you wanted a piece of candy, would you choose an unwrapped piece or one that came in a wrapper?” “I am not candy”, the younger woman replies. “Women are not candy”. And with that, Mona Eltahawy, a Muslim feminist who had worn the hijab for nine years, decided to ditch it altogether. -- Virginia Haussegger
(Photo: Rabiah Hutchinson at Manly Beach, Sydney, by Vanessa Hunter)
Having never lived outside Karachi until she moved to New York, Ms. Ahmed Shikoh did not anticipate the mixture of awe and estrangement that she felt. “Here I was looking at a huge new city and wondering: ‘How do I fit in? How do I make this my home and my territory?’ ” she said. Artistically she turned to her Statue of Liberty and Urdu subway map paintings. Socially she started visiting a mosque. “I guess being a minority, everybody starts to look for people of your own kind,” she said. “I had never been to a mosque in Pakistan. The mosque as community centre, I just discovered here. So I made a few Muslim friends, and it opened my eyes. There were women who were progressive, modern, fashionable and wearing the head scarf.” Over the next few years Ms. Ahmed Shikoh wrestled with herself about covering her hair, wondering, “Why not just wear modest clothes?” Her husband — who after 20 years here is relaxed and Americanized in manner — stayed out of the decision-making process. Her mother, tired of hearing her argue with herself, said: “O.K., what are you waiting for? They won’t throw you a party to start wearing one.” And then Ms. Ahmed Shikoh decided that God was asking her to do it as an act of faith. “I had the freedom in this country to make that choice,” she said. “Here people just let you live your life.” Ms. Ahmed Shikoh started keeping what she thought of as a hijab diary. Daily she would make a painting or collage that incorporated the template of a head scarf, sometimes quite playfully, as in the hijab with the built-in iPod or the one made of Play-Doh featuring Dora the Explorer. -- Deborah Sontag, New York Times
But what is the culture of Pakistan? Do Pakistanis own a tradition of music and dance that is separate from India’s? Mehdi Hasan and Ghulam Ali (who told me this on a flight to Bombay from Ahmedabad) enjoy performing in India because Pakistan’s middle-class is mostly illiterate about raag and taal. But this is our inheritance from the Sam Ved and from Amir Khusro. Why should it be disowned by Pakistanis?
High culture is rooted in tradition, and that is the first thing the religious state attacks. There is no culture of north Indian classical dance, Kathak, in Pakistan. Dance in general is absent (though apparently it is quite popular with Mehsud’s men, presumably grooving to the rhythm of pop-popping Kalashnikovs) because physical expression tends to be sensual and therefore deemed un-Islamic.
Culture does not directly resist extremism; it only makes extremism difficult to penetrate by diverting the mind. The only way to fight extremism is through reason, but South Asians are not particularly good at reason because we don’t understand its vocabulary. Culture softens us, not in a bad way, and makes us less suicidal, which is a state where pristine religion leads us through its demand of purity. -- Aakar Patel
Not only was Faiz banned by the quasi-Islamic regime, but also the wearing of saree at public venues. The mild-mannered Bano came draped in a silk saree, a perfect picture of her Dehli gharana style, but that day she roared like a lioness as Lahore swung along. The crowd was so huge the organisers had to throw the auditorium doors open, asking the youngsters to sit on the floor and vacate the seats for the elderly, who also came in droves. Then, loudspeakers had to be put up outside the hall, along The Mall, because the crowd outside just would not leave without hearing Bano sing Faiz.
A nearly hour-long recital of the otherwise short but poignant poem, Ham dekhain ge (‘we shall see the promised day of deliverance’) followed. The thumping and swinging by the huge crowd was so dramatic, a revolution seemed imminent. Zia’s riot police watched in a state of shock, and then disappeared from the scene. Any gathering of more than four persons in the street, and certainly all merrymaking, were outlawed. But here were thousands crying out loud and ecstatically dancing with joy. Bano rocked Lahore that day, resurrecting Faiz who suddenly seemed to have risen from the grave to lead his people to deliverance from tyranny. -- Murtaza Razvi
Muslim countries once led the world in scientific research. Iranian physicist Reza Mansouri tells Edwin Cartlidge why they now lag so far behind and what they can do about it
Maulana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
The best-selling poet in America today was born in Afghanistan, practiced a form of Islam that originated in Iraq, and has been dead for 800 years. How did a white man from Tennessee, who doesn't read a lick of Persian, make Rumi accessible to mainstream America? -- Ryan Croken
I died as a mineral and became a plant;
I died as a plant and rose to animal;
I died as animal and I was a man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man to soar
With angels blest. But even from an angel
I must pass on: all except God must perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
I shall become what no mind ever conceived.
Cleveland: Five years ago, young Muslims across the United States began reading and passing along a blurry, photocopied novel called "The Taqwacores," about imaginary punk rock Muslims in Buffalo. "This book helped me create my identity," said Naina Syed, 14, a high school freshman in Coventry, Connecticut. A Muslim born in Pakistan, Naina said she spent hours on the phone listening to her older sister read the novel to her. "When I finally read the book for myself," she said, "it was an amazing experience." The novel is The Catcher in the Rye for young Muslims, said Carl W Ernst, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Springing from the imagination of Michael Muhammad Knight, it inspired disaffected young Muslims in the United States to form real Muslim punk bands and build their own subculture. Now the underground success of Muslim punk has resulted in a low-budget independent film based on the book. -- Christopher Maag
Honestly, I did not think a Muslim runway show could exist and my feelings towards this new event are mixed. My first reaction is: how can you want to hide women, their hair, their body, their curves and still be a fashion designer? In my eyes, fashion is not first here to conceal but to reveal, to enhance, to make more beautiful, and in some Muslim sensitivities at least, it seems that the garment is here to erase the body, to hide the personality, to reserve its beauty to a very private sexual usage only, says fashion writer Jean Paul Cauvin
Shafqat Amanat Ali, born in 1965, is the son of Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, making him part of the 9 generation old Patiala Gharana. He has been a student of Hindustani classical music since age four, his grandmother being his first teacher.
Hyderabad: They are almost synonymous. Hyderabad and shayari. Nothing sways the ‘ahl-e-zoukh’ here more than poetry. And if it is the bard of the East, the effect is simply heady. The city has just crossed a literary milestone by hosting lyrical sittings of Mohammed Iqbal, the poet-philosopher, for 11 long years. This speaks volumes about the poetic passion of Hyderabadis as also the enduring appeal of Iqbal.
Amit Chaudhuri bemoans the neglect of a secularism that is an experiencing of the modern world through shared cultural artefacts...This secularism, crucially, has room within it for the "spiritual" hungers—the existential bewilderment, the unassuaged longing for something beyond the prison of the self—that, far from being addressed, are unwelcome in official secularism. Despite all the constitutional bulwarks, this is a significant default.
Book REVIEW: By Alok Rai
IN order to introduce Western audiences to a more positive vision of Islam than the one depicted in mainstream media, Badr International produced the long awaited first animated feature film about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), entitled “Muhammad: The Last Prophet,” which has proven to be a heart-rending rendering of a significant portion of the Prophet’s (pbuh) life and the birth of Islam.
Faraz’s burning poetry pitted itself against the injustices of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes — and certainly, Pakistan has provided plenty. His work will command a following so long as love itself lives, and the Muse finds a voice through a poignant Urdu ghazal, writes Lahore-based commentator F. S. Aijazuddin.
SUKHAN dard ka ab kaha jaaye na (of pain cannot be spoken anymore), wrote Ahmad Faraz, the greatest Urdu poet since Faiz. His departure leaves Urdu poorer, and at a loss for words which he so elegantly wove into its ghazal and nazm for over half a century. If ghazal was all about talking to women, Faraz lived as its Casanova; if it was a medium for romance, he was its reigning deity for the young and old alike, says an editoril tribute in Dawn, Karachi.
My late grandfather (our families hailed from the Dumraon princely estate, now in Bihar) used to tell me how Khan gave his first public performances, as a singer, at the age of five. His father Paighambar and grandfather Rasool Bux were both employees of the Dumraon raj. Each time Khan sang the Bhojpuri chaita, Ehi matiya me bhulail hamar motiya he rama (It’s at this spot that I lost my pearl), at the behest of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh, audiences were mesmerised, writes Darpan Singh.
A MILLION-DOLLAR Unesco project for mapping cultural and heritage assets in seven districts of the NWFP was recently launched in Peshawar. This is good news as the promotion of culture and heritage can lead to healthy economic opportunities for Pakistan’s violence-prone province — once the centre of the golden Gandhara era. An article by Adil Zareef
It is the wetness of water, the lilt in a melody, or the hue that radiates with the play of light on colour. Like the meaning of the word ‘Krishna’ — ‘an inner element which attracts’ — the concept of rasa in Hindustani culture and music helps transmit an elusive but profound tattva or principle of life.
New Delhi: Thirty girl students pour into a classroom, opening up textbooks in preparation for their lesson. It’s not the sight of their teacher they are waiting for, but the sound of his voice — streaming through inbuilt speakers, the lesson is delivered from the other side of the school.
Sitting cross-legged in a small cubicle downstairs, schoolteacher Mufti Farooque speaks into a microphone the words from Hadith, reports about the Prophet. The girls are studying in one of Delhi’s few female madrasas: Jamiat-Ul-Banat Al Islamia (JBI) in Okhla, where purdah (here simply defined as physical segregation of males and females) is strictly upheld. Preeti Jha of Indian Express reports.
KOCHI- PTI - An 'Indianised' Bible with references to the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Manusmriti and drawings of a turbaned Joseph and sari clad Mother Mary with baby Jesus in her arms, is making waves in Kerala. This is an unprecedented venture as Indian scriptures Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Mausmriti have been used in a Bible by way of interpretations to biblical passages for the first time, says Catholic church spokesperson Father Paul Thelekat. This is an attempt to make contextual reading and understanding.
JADDAH, Saudi Arabia -- A Turkish soap opera featuring an independent fashion designer and her amazingly supportive and attractive husband is emptying the streets whenever it's on and has more than doubled the number of Saudis visiting Turkey this summer. A report by Faiza Saleh Ambah, Washington Post Foreign Service.
Mehreen Jabbar, 37, is a Pakistani director of feature films and television serials. She spoke with Avijit Ghosh about her latest film, 'Ramchand Pakistani', and the state of films in her country:
Reviving the spirit and flavour of the ancient Nalanda University might seem an elusive goal, but that’s precisely what a group of intellectuals, political leaders and bureaucrats are seeking to do with international collaboration. N K Singh, member, Nalanda Mentor Group, talks to Narayani Ganesh:
According to the New York Times, Khuda Ke Liye, the first Pakistani movie to be released in India in forty three years, produced unexpected reactions among cinema goers. It was not the film’s interpretation of Islam as a tolerant religion but the quality of middle class houses in Lahore that flummoxed them. “We didn’t know Pakistanis had such good houses,” confessed Indian viewers. Apparently the existence of taxis in Lahore also came as a revelation. As did the information that Pakistani women went to university and drove cars, writes Moni Mohsin, a Pakistani novelist.