Love in a Headscarf. A book by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed

This book got a warm recommendation by one of the biggest Danish news papers.

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed blogs at spirit21, and she is the winner of brass crescent awards for best blog and best female blog.She writes:

I took the book to a number of publishers whose commissioning editors loved the story, but couldn’t see it fitting with the existing mould of books about Muslim women. “We need an ‘alias’ of a book that is already out there so people understand how it relates to previous books,” they explained, meaning it should be either a forced marriage story or one of escape from Islam.

With such black and white views about the stories that Muslim women are permitted to tell, how can it ever be possible to create an understanding of our diversity and complexity?

I hope my book brings a fresh perspective to the discussion about Muslim women. But there is a serious question to be asked – will it provoke the Muslim community to look into itself and wonder why these lazy stereotypes exist? Sometimes as Muslims we lack an intellectual honesty about ourselves, and are not brave enough to tell our stories as human beings on a journey, with all our flaws. If publishers are guilty of monolithic misery memoirs, then Muslims must also take some of the blame for not sharing our universal experiences in a language and context that everyone can relate to.

To find out more, click here.

Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Apun Ka Desh reviews the much-hyped movie “Slumdog Millionaire” on his blog-

The storyline is quite new, something you haven’t seen in the past – and as most of us know it comes from the book ‘Q n A’ by Mr Vikas Swarup (a indian bureaucrat by profession… have you noticed how many indian bureaucrats especially on foregin postings are writing books these days! No real work to do .. eh?). The acting by small kids is good – they shine compared to their older ‘avatars’ in the movie.

Yeah, i didn’t have too many positives sorry – inspite of the hype.

Now, for the things which i did not like.


India, Pakistan and Peace

Raza Rumi

Little did we know that the imminence of war between India and Pakistan would once again become a possibility, howsoever faint or misguided? The ruling political junta in India is talking war following the media frenzy over Mumbai carnage. Once again it is time to be ‘tough’ with Pakistan. This is a surprise given that the interlude of peace under General Musharraf and all the offers of conflict resolution were either stalled by the red-tapism of Indian bureaucracy or a victim of political inaction. At home, we have the air-force planes hovering the wintry skies of Lahore causing consternation not only to the peaceniks, shrinking each day, but to the overwhelming majority of the common citizens. After all what have they got to do with the power game in Islamabad and Delhi, the media hysteria or even the terror cartels?

True that circumstantial evidence points to the fact that the metaphor of our times, Ajmal Kasai socially upgraded as the Urduised Kasab, is linked to the little Faridkot in the Pakistani Punjab. However, much of the international community has reminded India that there is little or no evidence of any direct involvement of the Pakistani state let alone its fragile civilian government. Yet, the rhetoric of unilateral strikes by the Indian foreign minister and now the venerable Sonia Gandhi is having the right effect here. Of war mongering, preparedness assessments and the much trumpeted security strategy through the nuclear option.


Arundhati Roy and others in India, quite bravely, have urged the Indian state and society to look at the monster in the mirror and many observers in Pakistan have also taken an unconventional line in this dangerous game of legitimizing aggression, violence, the deadly nuclear weapons and their usage. But these are views that are in a minority and the monsters of jingoism and nationalism have unleashed their ire against such voices of sanity. Not surprising for the nation-state business in the subcontinent where we have three constructed nations armed with weapons and managed by the leftovers of the colonial bureaucracy.


History will not be kind to such short- sightedness. More importantly, the future of generations is at stake. It is time to make it clear that war mantra has to be abandoned by the myopic, power-hungry elites of India and Pakistan.

Time to be confident. And to heal.

Being a citizen of Pakistan, and being a woman citizen of Pakistan I am so proud of this country. It has given me so much, the love, the warmth, the humanity, the neighbours, the streets, that we have progressed. In the journey from 1947 we have made a number of sacrifices but despite all the odds we have progressed beyond even our wildest imaginations

We are not tired even as yet, we have not given up hope, our people have potential and we will continue to move forward, some of the challenges thrown at us have been beyond comprehension, but our resolution to raise our head high will empower us to strive ahead.  We are defiant and Pakistan is a huge country, the only country in the world created for the Muslims out of a political struggle of Muslims. No wonder we have the toughest challenges.

We lost Bangladesh; with a sad heart we were forced to accept that as a fact. The People of Pakistan are united, sectarian, political, ethnical and regional differences make us Pakistan. It is this vibrancy that brings us different point of views yet we laugh together and join to celebrate our Eids, our Ramadan, our prayers and our faith unites us with whole of Muslim world.

Mumbai Terrorists Succeed

The Mumbai terror attacks have left some deep scars. In terms of numbers, perhaps more Pakistanis are dying every day; but as it is, Mumbai is turning out to be more significant. India and Pakistan are back to rhetoric, and indeed, back from the brink of a war! Progress made in the past few years are gone in a few days. That event is tending to divide the Muslims and the Hindus in India.  Many Muslims are apologetic about crimes that they did not participate in, and had nothing to do with except as a victim. Pakistani seems to have become an abuse. (Not so long ago Obama was “smeared” by the horribly offensive term- “Muslim,” against which he rightfully protested; but did not do the right thing by saying- “(No I’m not), but why would that be a bad thing?.”) We have these beer drinking terrorists- who they are, what they want we do not know. We have these people who are confused. We have other political entities who benefit from our loss and others’ loss. The terrorists seem to have won the battle. We have to win the war.

Du’a is the least we can do. Today, as three million Muslims stand at Mecca, we can make du’a for ourselves, and make du’a for them, and for everybody in the Ummah, and for every person in the whole wide world.

Eid Wishes, y’all.

[Image courtesy: Ron Gonzalez]

Karachi Burning

After Mumbai, it’s Karachi now. Riots and shootings are tearing Karachi apart.

 Karachi is bleeding again. More than a dozen dead. 80 injured. The Sindh Home Minister says “shoot to kill.” And everyone expects more blood to spill on the streets of Karachi. Fear rules the thoroughfares of Karachi.


Everyone seems to know the script of the drama that is about to unfold, yet again, on the streets of Karachi. Except that the deaths will be real, not make-believe. Those who will be doing the killing have been arming up. Those who will be doing the instigation have already upped their rhetoric of hate, division and violence. Those who will be doing the dying, remain on knife’s edge, hoping that they will not be called upon to be sacrificed in the rituals of ethnic murder, so close to the Eid of sacrifice. The rest sit stunned in inaction as the politics of mayhem readies to raise its ugly head yet again. We see Pakistani kill Pakistani in the name of Pakistan. We sit afraid. Very afraid.

Our prayers are with Karachi.

[Image courtesy: fakhruddinusmani]

Mumbai Terror Attacks

From Indian Muslims Blog:

Most of the details of this terrible tragedy are still unclear but one thing is clear – abject failure of the UPA government to rein in terror.

From Ahmed Quraishi

100 Groups In A War Against India

“Mumbai’s night of terror underscores a phenomenon concealed by the Indian government and intelligence agencies and deliberately ignored by a biased Anglo-American media for a long time: The rise of a virulent form of Hindu terrorism that begets violence from other minorities. Here is a list of almost one hundred groups that are fighting the Indian government. All of them thrive in India. The context for what has happened in Mumbai is stunning only for those unaware how a cocktail mix of wrong policies, official patronage to extremism, and separatist movements have come together to destabilize India.”
“While the U.S. media was busy last year likening Pakistan to Iraq in a politically motivated campaign aligned with U.S. military objectives, experts were ranking India only second to Iraq in the number of people who died as a result of terrorist attacks between 2004 and 2007, according to one survey by an American think tank”
“This only surprises those who do no know how India has been gradually relapsing into religious extremism in the period between 1990 and 2008. This history is important in order to understand why the Indian claims of Pakistani complicity in the attacks have often sought to simplify a complex situation.”
“In India, there is a cocktail mix of wrong policies, official patronage to extremism, and separatist movements, all coming together to destabilize India. At least 600 Christians, churches, nuns and priests were targeted by Hindu mobs in eastern India in August this year”
“In 1984, Sikhs were hauled off buses in New Delhi and beaten or burned to death following the assassination of Indian prime minister Indra Gandhi at the hands of Sikh bodyguards. And finally, between 12 to 14 separatist insurgencies currently rage across India’s north and northeast”
“It should also be noted that the Indian establishment is cracking down on Tamil separatists due to violence in Sri Lanka as Tamils are regrouping in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nado. Tamils have to their credit the last significant political assassination in India, the blowing up of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1984. They continue to be the most ruthless terror outfit in India.”
“In this sense, countries like United States, Britain and Australia are partially responsible for letting the growth of India terrorism – with its mix of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and ethnic insurgencies – go unnoticed for so many years. These western countries have done this in order not to disturb the Anglo-Saxon project of grooming India as a bulwark against China and Russia and other regional powers.”

From Belfast Telegraph:

India uncovers Hindu terror group that carried out bombings blamed on Islamists

At least 10 people, including monk and army officer, held

The Native Returns

Raza Rumi.

Twenty years ago, I left Lahore. Excited by prospects of quality higher education and the adolescent yearning for freedom, this was a moment that only with age I have understood. A flash that alters the life-path even when one is not aware of it. As I grew up and visited Lahore from a multitude of cities and continents, Lahore’s provincialism and inward-looking ethos irked me. However, the splendour of its lived history and multi-layered present fascinated me endlessly. A false sense of fatalism whispered that my exile was going to cover a life-span.

The last few years were spent abroad: so dejected I was that not living in Lahore would mean living just anywhere. When I decided this summer to return to Pakistan, I was astounded by the reactions from all and sundry. I was told that I am ‘mad’ to have chosen to return to a burning, imploding and crashing Pakistan. Such is the power of global corporate media that even the discerning and schooled Pakistanis have started to believe in the failed state mantra scripted outside Pakistan.

My own parents, temporary residents of Islamabad, scared by the blasts advised me against it. Others from the more indulgent school of thought were aghast with my decision to return to a country where power outages, crumbling urban infrastructure and pollution define urban living. Of all the nightmares cited was that who knows if the country would survive? Such cynicism and unmasked pessimism about Pakistan is always disturbing, yet familiar. My question is when was the country not about to unravel since 1947?

Continue reading.

[Image coutresy: fredericknoronha]

Reporter Embedded With the Taliban

Brother Naeem, back from his Ramadan hiatus-

My problem with the jihad being waged by the Taliban is illustrated in this passage of the article:

“Ibrahim’s recent injury, it turns out, was the result of a clash between his forces and a group of foreign fighters under the command of Dr. Khalil. The foreigners wanted to close down a girls’ school, sparking a battle. Two Arabs and 11 Pakistanis commanded by Dr. Khalil had been killed by Ibrahim’s men.”

These fighters may spend most of their time praying in the masjid (as mentioned in the article), but they have no problem turning around and killing each other over differences in religious interpretation.

How very typical of this Ummah.

From Reporter Embedded with Taliban.