Benazir Assassinated

Former prime minister and chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a gun and suicide attack minutes after she addressed a huge election rally at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi on Thursday, December 27.

Shots were fired at her before a suicide bomber blew himself up near her bullet-proof jeep as it pulled out of the Liaquat Bagh gate. Bullets pierced her neck and damaged her trachea, which proved fatal. The attacker blew himself up as guards attempted to overpower him. More than 28 people were killed and some 100 injured, including Benazir’s political secretary Naheed Khan and Sherry Rehman in the attack.

Nothing worse could have happened to Pakistan than what hit this country on Thursday. The word tragedy seems to have lost its meaning for how and at what juncture of our chequered history Benazir Bhutto has been killed. This is far greater than a tragedy. May Allah guard our country.

It is a sad day for Pakistan and for the people of Pakistan. The country has lost one of its two most popular political leaders at a time when it was preparing for general elections. Everyone is in a state of shock and no one is sure as to what is going to happen next. Thinking about the coming days sends a chilling wave down one’s spine. Already riots have broken in different parts of the country and there is an enormous damage to public and private property caused by the infuriated PPP supporters.

If we could survive this one of the most serious jolts of our political history? Do we have the kind of leadership that could bring Pakistan out of this quandary? Already Pakistan was passing through what could be termed the real testing times of its history.

The fundamental question is as to who did this to Pakistan?

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Jesus, the Muslim Messiah

Tomorrow, December 25, is birthday of Prophet Eissa (Jesus in English), may peace be upon him. I thought the following post to be most suited for today.

Years ago, an agnostic friend of mine married a Jewish woman who practised her faith seriously. He took instruction in Judaism and seemed likely to convert — but eventually did not. His chief reason was that he remained agnostic. But another obstacle surprised even himself: “I found that I just did not want to give up Jesus.”

In European culture, there is no getting away from Jesus even if you are agnostic. True, Nietzsche tried to reject him with detestation and contempt, calling him (God forbid) an “idiot,” a purveyor of a sick, decadent view of the world. Yet the very ferocity of Nietzsche’s onslaught showed how strong in his heart was the image he wanted to destroy.

What if my friend had married a Muslim? The interesting thing is that he could have kept Jesus — not the Jesus who was the Son of God, admittedly, and who was crucified, but certainly the Jesus who was Messiah and miracle worker, who conversed regularly with God, who was born of a virgin and who ascended into heaven.

Jesus is referred to quite often in the Koran, six times under the title “Messiah.” Yet I had long supposed that the importance of Jesus as prophet in Muslim tradition was something to which Muslims gave “notional” rather than “real” assent.

How wrong this assumption was I have learnt by reading a fascinating book, The Muslim Jesus, by the Cambridge academic Tarif Khalidi. Khalidi has brought together, from a vast range of sources, most of the stories, sayings and traditions of Jesus that are to be found in Muslim piety from the earliest times.

The Muslim Jesus is an ascetic, a man of voluntary poverty, humility and long suffering. He literally turns the other cheek, allowing his face to be slapped twice in order to protect two of his disciples. He teaches the return of good for evil: “Jesus used to say, ‘Charity does not mean doing good to him who does good to you … Charity means that you should do good to him who does you harm.’ ” He preaches against attachment to worldly things: “Jesus said, ‘He who seeks worldly things is like the man who drinks sea water: the more he drinks, the more thirsty he becomes, until it kills him.’ “

Many of the sayings of the Muslim Jesus clearly derive from Biblical sources — “Place your treasures in heaven, for the heart of man is where his treasure is”; “Look at the birds coming and going! They neither reap nor plough, and God provides for them.” Sometimes there is a sort of gloss on words of Jesus: “Oh disciples, do not cast pearls before swine, for the swine can do nothing with them … wisdom is more precious than pearls and whoever rejects wisdom is worse than a swine.”

He is certainly a wonder-worker. He often raises the dead, and gives his disciples power to do the same. More than once he comes across a skull and restores it to life, on one occasion granting salvation to a person who had been damned. The skulls, like everyone else in these stories, address Jesus as “Spirit of God.” Once he is even addressed as “Word of God.”

I once had a conversation with members of Hezbollah in Beirut. One of them said: “The greatness of Islam is that we combine Judaism and Christianity. Jesus freed enslaved hearts, he was able to release human feeling, to reveal a kingdom of peace. Jesus’s realm was the realm of soul. Jesus is soul; Moses is mind, the mind of the legislator. In Islam, we interweave both.” This is certainly the Jesus of these stories — the Jesus of the mystical Sufi tradition. The great Muslim philosopher Al-Ghazali actually called Jesus “Prophet of the heart.”

The Muslim Jesus is not divine, but a humble servant of God. He was not crucified — Islam insists the story of the killing of Jesus is false. He is Jesus as he might have been without St. Paul or St. Augustine or the Council of Nicaea. He is not the cold figure of English Unitarianism, and he is less grand than the exalted human of the Arians. As you read these stories, what comes across most powerfully is that the Muslim Jesus is intensely loved.

It is good to be reminded, especially now, of the intimate connections there have been between Islam and Christianity, and how close in spirit Muslim and Christian piety can come to each other. Curiously enough, the Muslim Jesus, shorn of all claims of divinity, could be more easily held on to by my agnostic friend than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

One other thing: since Muslims deny the Crucifixion, their emphasis has been on the wonders surrounding the birth of “Jesus Son of Mary,” born as his mother sat under a palm tree, and miraculously speaking from within the womb. There really is no reason why schools that put on Nativity plays, or anyone who wants to insist on the Christian meaning of Christmas, should fear that they may offend Muslim sensibilities, for Jesus really is shared by both faiths.

Article written by: John Casey, a fellow of Gonville and Caius, Cambridge.
Published in The Daily Telegraph on December 21, 2001

Happy Eidul Adh-ha

اللہُ اکبر اللہُ اکبر لَا اِلَہَ اِلْاللہ وَحْدَہُ لَا شَرِیْکَ لَہُ لَہُ الّمُلْکُ وَ لَہُ الْحَمْدُ وَ ھُوَ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیٍ قَدِیر
اللہُ اکبر اللہُ اکبر لا اِلہَ اِلاللہ و اللہُ اکبر اللہُ اکبر و للہِ الحمد
اللہُ اکبر کبِیرہ والحمدُللہِ کثیِرہ و سُبحَان اللہِ بکرۃً و أصِیلا

Allaho Akbar, Allaho Akbar, La ilaha il-Allah, wahdahu la sareeka lahu, lahul mulko wa lahul hamdo wa howa ala kul-lay sayin qadeer
Allaho Akbar, Allaho Akbar, La ilaha il-Allah, wa Allaho Akbar, Allaho Akbar, wa lil’lahil hamd
Allaho Akbar kabeera, wal-hamdulillahi kathira, wa sub-han Allahi bukratan wa aseela

HAPPY EIDUL-ADH-HA to all the readers and their families. May Allah keep all of you and families happy, in

Story of Ant & Grasshopper

Old version

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grass Hopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grass Hopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Modern Version

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grass Hopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering Grass Hopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

Geo TV, BBC, ARY, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grass Hopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grass Hopper is allowed to suffer so?

Asma Jahangir stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house.
Civil Society activist goes on a fast along with other Grass hoppers demanding that Grass Hoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.
Amnesty International criticizes the Pakistan Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grass Hopper.
The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grass Hopper.
Enlightened political parties (PPP, MQM, Q-league) call for “Strike” in the country.

MQM Coalition in Sindh immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grass Hoppers.
Finally, the President drafts an ordinance ‘Anti State Terrorism Against Grass Hoppers Act (ASTAGA)’ with effect from the beginning of the winter and Mobilises state agencies.
Punjab Government makes ‘Special Reservation’ for Grass Hoppers in Educational Institutions and in Government Services.

The Ant is fined for failing to comply with ASTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, it’s home is confiscated by the NAB and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by PTV.
MQM calls it the ‘Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden’.
Prime Minister of Pakistan invites the Grass Hopper to address the National Assembly.

Many years later…

The Ants have since migrated to the US, Canada, UK, Middle East and Far East, have worked harder than they did before setting up a multi-million dollar business.
Hundreds of Grass Hoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in Pakistan …
As a result of loosing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the Grass Hoppers, Pakistan is still a developing country with increase pwrcentage of people below the powerty-line.