Devastating Results

Yesterday it happened and it was all over the news and the facebook feed; a boy and a girl of tenth grade, killed themselves, because they thought that they were in love and wont be united by the world! And the media got all crazy asking if it were them who shoved them to such fate? People were asking if it was their parents? Or the school administration or the teachers? And for so many this was just what our future holds…

We do not have a television at our place. My kids watch stuff on youtube under heavy scrutiny and when I am watching something, I make sure my kids are asleep. Knowing that my kids have a very sharp memory and they can recall incidents that took place more than two years ago, I am compelled to watch over for not only what they watch but even of what I speak! (Not to mention my elder one just turned five) Why I am relating all this is because media does have a lot of influence on us. The kids who committed mutual suicide were only kids, not knowing what actually love is, or life is or what is happening beyond the boundaries of their little lives! They don’t know how Syrians are living their lives and how they are drowing at sea to get to safer lands! This is the hard reality! We feel it is okay for our kids to watch TV and movies, not realizing the long lasting impacts that would have on the psychological development of a child! What are you exposing them to… For a change, talk to your kids about life, about their surroundings, about the world we live in, and about their feelings and help them channelize those feelings.

We have moved away from the realities of life and we yet not take heed!


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Slavery

Mental slavery or perhaps the ‘hindu mindset’, that prevails in our society, makes us see men we idealise as gods, who cannot err. The recent events in our political scenario is enough to convince anyone that, yes, we are suffering from ‘personality cult’ syndrome. The PLM-N and PTI supporters cannot and will not ever hear anything against their leaders. Same is the case with other parties in which MQM and PPP are also top of the list. Same goes for the religious parties.
The disease is quite understandable as far as rural areas are concerned as the population there has either access to no or little education plus they are not even allowed to think against the wishes of the zameendars, and waderas there. Plus since these people have lived under the slavery of a few families for centuries, their subconscious and conscious selves cannot just forgo these mental chains and breathe freely in open air as it might just kill them.
But is education the only solution to this problem? The same trend in the educated class of the urban areas negate it. The educated lot also cannot and does not tolerate anyone who do not support their political or religious ideals. The continous pinpointing at ‘the other’ group, the hate speech and the character assassination of other’s leaders show that, we, as a nation, never actually came out of the ‘hindu mindset’. The reverence one feels and shows for their leader is more crucial and important than their faith in Allah because we feel that, ‘my leader is above every bad act and decision and can never be wrong and shouldn’t be questioned.’ Plus if you do not disagree than you are an enemy or a kafir. The very unquestionable following of a leader, be it political or religious, has only created gaps, cracks and hatred in our society.
The current scenario in which some leaders are asking for political reforms and thinking about bringing in a revolution, do not realise that the whole process of revolution does not revolve around people singing, and dancing, and claiming to do one thing one day and other on another day. Revolution will come after we let go of the mental chains of blindly following humanbeings and turn to follow the One that frees us from human worshipping and that we may be able to ask our leader how come you had a whole tableful of breakfast whilst we begged for food in the streets.

Religion, Culture and Literature…

I smsed my brother asking if he has “The Prince” and he replied in affirmation. I texted back saying,”I’ll be highly obliged if you can bring it”. He later commented that my “highly obliged” reflected the mentality of a slave. And I replied, “As if taking a degree in English is not a reflection enough !”

A few weeks back, a cousin of mine was asking about some symbol on orkut and her brother tried to show that he doesn’t know. And as I was standing nearby I shouted out that word loud and clear. And her brother looked at me, shocked, and then told her sister, ” that’s why I didn’t say it!” The word is commonly used but has vulgar connotations. And with this the realisation dawned upon me that I’m getting accustomed to all those words which are not a part of my culture. In the book Doing English, the author has clearly stated that with every word of a foreign language comes the whole cultural package. And with this the fear took over me. Am I falling through the bottomless pit of a foreign culture?! From then onwards I became conscious of every word that I use and am trying still to shun every word that does not reflect decency.

But how many of us actually realise that?! Last year while attending one of the presentations of the research group in our department, the professor said that not every word can be translated. In Arabic we use words which have no direct one word in English or any other language. It’s true for Urdu and other languages. And this is true for English as well. The words become terminologies! Once attending the lecture of philosophy, a professor said that we should avoid using words like “enlightenment” and “modern” because these are not words with simple meanings, for Occidentals these are terminologies that have derived from their history and culture. These words date back from the 16th and 17th Centuries, the age that Europe called The Age of Enlightenment. The shift from homo-centric to the ego-centric culture, when man became more important. And these all are not part of our culture.

In Notes Towards the definition of Culture, T.S. Eliot says that Europe’s culture is deeply seated in the religious history of Europe. The literature of Europe has it’s roots so deep in Christianity that even now when some of them reject every religion, their every action is Christian. And Muhammad Asad in his book The Road to Makkah says that he has come to the theory that the European prejudice and hatred towards Islam and Muslims is dated as back as the first Crusades! So it’s deep rooted in their hearts, and is instilled in their genes and they cannot detach it from themselves. It has become part of their culture. And it was T.S.Eliot who said that Culture is derived from religion and faith (with it or the lack of it). And as writers cannot write in a vacuum, and they incorporate their genes into the whole experience of writing, we see the reflection of their beliefs, culture and thoughts. So, when I am reading Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Dickens, Bronte or James, I am actually exposing myself to their culture and beliefs. I remember a friend saying that it seems as if we know more than the average European about their sects and religion and history. It’s incorporated in their literature.

Now the effect of literature upon our lives: The first ever department of English was established in the colony of Subcontinent. The English believed that literature would incorporate certain values in the Indians without them realising it. And this would help them make better slaves. And they would not realise the religious moulding through literature. So, literature became a tool of making us more “civilized” in the eyes of West to serve their own purposes. Literature, if read passively, works subtely yet moves your insides violently. Your mind may accept things subconsciously or unconciously and may effect your whole way of thinking. And I realised that you need to be active when reading literature, alert all the time, in order to keep their beliefs and metaphysics at bay.

The recent writers of Pakistan, who chose English to be their medium of communicating their ideas, do not reflect the embedded culture of the East. And when I’m talking about Muslim writers, I’m talking about the culture of Islam. The writers have not only chosen English but they have incorporated the ideas of Europe, their culture in those writings reflecting their own “slave-ish mentality”.  The embedded idea in our minds that doing English, eating with forks and spoons and sitting on a dining table reflects the marks of civilization, without realising that in our culture, eating with your hands and sitting on the floor are the marks of being “civilized”.

It’s high time for us to realise that our culture, literature and everything else have a center, and that center is Islam. And the unification in things come from that one center. We may be able to intitutionalise every “branch” of knowledge, but the cente would allow a Muslim to see things in totality and not in fractions. And we see all that in the works of Muslim poets from Rumi to Iqbal. So, even if we are to read the Western authors, we need to counter that effect by reading our own literature in the languages of the East, mainly Urdu, Arabic or Persian. It’s high time to stand facing the current and yet not loose our grounds. And we can only do that by standing in our own cultural grounds and not borrowed ones. We have far more better examples than those of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates.