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Reading: Some Reflections (and the Books I read in 2016)

Reading: Some Reflections (and the Books I read in 2016)

Aslam Kakar I grew up in a small village on the periphery of Pakistan. In childhood and till my undergraduate studies in Lahore, I did not read at all. Perhaps, I did not have the opportunity or perhaps I just did not care. Or may be I did not care because of the environment. There was no library where I lived. I never saw a book store till the age of 18 when I went to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Books, culture, Education, Fiction, Lahore, LGBT, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Love, Nature, Opinion, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, peace, Politics, psychology, quetta, Religion

The Dark Sludge of Religious Sectarianism

The Dark Sludge of Religious Sectarianism

By Saad Hafiz The recent murder of Dr Mohammad Shakil Auj, the dean of Islamic Studies at the University of Karachi, is yet another atrocity in Pakistan’s seemingly unending sectarian conflict. Apparently, Dr Auj, known for his liberal religious views, was targeted for speaking out against sectarian killings. Since the 1980s, the country has been wracked by violence, mostly perpetrated by Sunni extremist groups against the Shia minority. It is important to mention that the Shias … Read entire article »

Filed under: Islamism, Religion, Secterainism, Taliban, Target Killing, Terrorism, violence, war

Come on Pakistan! Culture isn’t a static thing

By Raja Arsalan Khan Pakistani intelligentsia cannot challenge the Taliban through a comprehensive narrative because of the confusion it is suffering from. We are unique; we are supreme; we are here to tell people how to live; we are destined to change the whole world; only the Muslims have contributed to the human progress; everything should must Islamized; everyone except Muslims are our enemies. It is the executive summary of education imparted to our students while we seek an answer to the question: how to root out militancy from society. And unfortunately, media (now a 24/7 business) is complicating the problem by constantly bashing the West and reminding people about so-called negative influence of non-Muslim world and unending conspiracies designed by Jews, Hindus and Christians to consume us. Even a cursory look at the extremism … Read entire article »

Filed under: culture, Islam, Pakistan, Religion

Inescapable Morality – Blasphemy and Liberalism

By AA Khalid ‘’Neutral’’ liberalism and libertarianism are not adequate ways of combating the current trends of conservativism and fundamentalism. We need a liberalism with a spine, which is not afraid to take certain moral claims. When arguing against the blasphemy law we cannot avoid making certain moral and religious claims, hence ”neutral” liberalism inevitably fails to tackle the big questions facing contemporary politics. It is said that contemporary liberal political philosophy as characterized by the likes of Rawls, Ackerman and Dworkin who maintain that at the core of political liberalism, the State should be neutral in regards to issues concerning morality, ethics, ways of life and virtue. But is such a conception of the State and conception of such a political culture feasible? Can we realistically detach our ideas of the good … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Contestations of Ijtihad: The Need For Debate

A.A Khalid has sent this exclusive piece for PTH. We are truly encouraged by the fact that there are so many rational Pakistanis who want to rescue their religion from the clutches of bigots and extremists. We would like more and more people to join this debate and develop a discourse which sadly is missing since the days of Allama Iqbal. Raza Rumi In liberal circles of religious scholarship there is a contention that ‘’ijtihad’’ is the epistemic tool which will solve all our grapples and puzzles of establishing a suitable religiosity for our time. Ijtihad is elevated from its formal place as a mere tool of legal reasoning restricted in the classical tradition to books of law, to that of an intellectual principle and a citadel of a rational religiosity. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Calling A Spade A Spade

VIEW: Parliamentary theocracy —Yasser Latif Hamdani The 18th Amendment reintroduces the requirement for the prime minister of the country to be a Muslim. Pakistan’s slide down the slippery pole of religiosity is quite clear Frederick Douglass — the great 18th century American statesman and abolitionist — once described democracy as a way to take turns. He was a one-man resistance to the tyranny of the majority and its confusion about democracy. It did not occur, however, to the framers of the 18th Amendment that this was also the principle on which Pakistan was founded, i.e. a permanent majority shall not, by sheer force of numbers, dominate and oppress a permanent minority. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Understanding Islamic Revival In Its Proper Context

Understanding Islamic Revival In Its Proper Context

By Yasser Latif Hamdani  My secular comrades and friends will probably disagree with me or maybe not, and it is nothing less than sacrilege for a self proclaimed secularist like myself to say so,   but the core values of any civilization are drawn from the dominant religio-cultural system.   There are contributory factors from other minority strains but ultimately the way society is organized is around the religio-cultural system the majority of its adherents follow.   So for … Read entire article »

Filed under: Islam, Islamism

Fashionistas Not Revolutionaries

Fashionistas Not Revolutionaries

Lahore Fashion Week has brought Pakistan Fashion Debate back in international media.   The first piece is from  CNN: Lahore, Pakistan (CNN) — Bare backs, plunging necklines and high-cut hems. Western media recently reported that the bold statements made by Pakistan’s fashionistas at Lahore Fashion Week demonstrated how designers were rejecting conservative dress in the South Asian nation. But the country’s top designers and models say that last week’s four-day fashion extravaganza wasn’t about defying extremism. “I won’t go as … Read entire article »

Filed under: Fashion, Pakistan

NRO Debate Continues …

By Yasser Latif Hamdani Duniya ki tareekh gawah hai,  adl bina jamhoor na hoga   History bears witness,  there shall be no republic (democracy) without justice -From Aitzaz Ahsan’s Poem “Kal, Aaj Aur Kal” – the anthem of Pakistan’s Lawyers’ Movement.   “I am for the Law.  We wish for a republic of laws.”   John Adams- one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.  “The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.”   Mahomed Ali Jinnah- our Quaid-e-Azam. The decision on NRO was a historic one.   Based on the short order, however, a reasonable apprehension exists that by invoking articles 62-f … Read entire article »

Filed under: Justice, Pakistan

Chandra Muzaffar on Islamic Reform & Liberation Theology

Chandra Muzaffar is Malaysia’s best-known public intellectual. He has written widely on questions related to Islam, inter-faith relations and liberation theology, issues that he discusses in this interview with Yoginder Sikand. Q: Much of your writing focuses on a critique of capitalism and consumerism, or what you very aptly term as ‘moneytheism’, which you contrast with the monotheism of Islam. How do you see Muslim scholars dealing with these issues? A: Unfortunately, what is in some circles called ‘Islamic Economics’ has not sufficiently critiqued capitalism and the consumerist ethos. In fact, many of those associated with the ‘Islamic Economics’ project have simply tried to apply a so-called ‘Islamic’ gloss on capitalism. If at all those associated with the ‘Islamic Economics’ project critique consumerism, which is such a deeply-rooted phenomenon globally, including in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Love And Sex At LUMS 3: Happy Offending

From THE LUMS DAILY STUDENT In the past month that I have been at LUMS, I have come across a whole lot of crazy, as well as new stuff. From building a house, to PDC food, from tiny hostel rooms, to washing my own clothes in non-functional washing machines, from over loaded Zambeel to ever flooding campus mail, BUT, what I hadn’t come across yet, and hadn’t even thought of in the most outlandish of my fantasies was about ‘to love or not to love.’ … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Love and Sex at LUMS 1: The Secret Love Life of LUMS Students

From Dawn Blogs The campus of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) is famous for being a bubble environment where risqué fashion trends are explored and high-school soap operas come to life in the midst of hijab-clad women and the bearded folk from LUMS Religious Society. To an outsider visiting LUMS, or possibly visiting Pakistan for the first time, this campus might seem at first encounter like the ideal multicultural environment akin to an ancient city-state where all live in harmony with tolerance. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

The Politics of Burqah and Secularism

By Michelle Goldberg On Monday, Nicolas Sarkozy became the first French president since Charles Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte to address the Parliament, thanks to recent reforms that scrapped a 19th-century law meant to protect the independence of the legislature. Given the occasion, it was rather odd that Sarkozy’s strongest words were reserved for denouncing a garment that hardly any women in France wear. The burqa, he said, “is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women.” It is, he added, “not welcome in France.” Headscarves have been banned in French schools since 2004. Now Sarkozy wants to go much further, banning burqas, loose, full-body veils that cover women entirely, as well as niqabs, or face veils, from being worn anywhere in public. This was partly a rebuke to Obama, who outraged the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Europe, Identity, Islam, Society

Pakistan's Swat Nightmare

By Simon Tisdall  It seemed like a good idea at the time. Rather than endlessly engage in inconclusive, on-off guerrilla warfare with Taliban insurgents, Pakistan’s security forces cut a deal. The Islamists would have de facto local administrative control, including implementation of sharia law. In return, they would accept federal government authority, stop fighting, and lay down their arms. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Jinnah's Pakistan in Retreat

From The News By Maleeha Lodhi An event in the life of a nation sometimes has deeper significance than what appears on the surface. The accord by which the government all but ceded administrative and judicial control to militants and their Taliban affiliates in Swat is such a development. This has profound implications for the country that have been obscured by the facile discussions on many TV talk shows. It may well mark a turning point in the country’s struggle with rising militancy. The Swat deal signifies several things all at once. First and foremost it represents a retreat for Jinnah’s Pakistan. Whatever the apologists of the deal may claim, it is the very antithesis of the vision and ideals inspired by the country’s founder, the core of which was a modern, unified … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan