Desi in DC

April 15, 2017

Mardan and the death of forgiveness and education

And we call ourselves Muslims? When did it become ok to lynch mob and kill a student or anyone for that matter? What happened to if you save a life you save all of humanity and if you kill a person it’s like you killed all of humanity?

What worries me and concerns me is that the mob killing of Mashal Khan happened in Abdul Wali Khan University. Three to four thousand university “students” were apparently involved as part of the mob. University students means they have received at least a high school education most likely even a bachelors before gaining admission to the university. In Urdu students are called Talib-e-ilm ie “seekers of knowledge”.  An education is meant to open your hearts and minds, it allows you to ask questions rather than just believing in rumours. This act highlights the problem of our education system were rote learning is rampant and rote learning is rewarded over actual understanding. Are we removing the capacity of our youth to think and ask questions so that they can no longer question authority and like robots believe anything that is said to them? Are we not required to use our brains to seek out answers?

We also seem to have lost the message of forgiveness. First of all there was no conclusive proof of what this young student had done, there were only rumours. In fact media sources report that Mashal was an active and vocal voice on the campus and someone had recently created a fake social media account in his name. Even if, for arguments sake, we assume he was guilty of blasphemy (for which there is no proof) what happened to forgiveness. We didn’t even give him a chance to defend himself.

The Quran says

“Keep to forgiveness and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant” (Surah 7, Verse199).

And again

“”If you take retribution, then do so in proportion to the wrong done to you. But if you can bear such conduct with patience, indeed that is best for the steadfast.” Surah 16, verse number 126[1]

Blasphemy is an act best left for God to judge. We as humans and Muslims must not judge these actions especially since the Quran does not prescribe a punishment for it in this world[2]. Instead, we must persevere patiently and with forgiveness as prescribed in the Quran, and exemplified by the Prophet.

For all those involved in the mob, I wonder how they plan on answering to God when the question arises who were they to judge whose live should or should not be taken

 

[1] This translation has been taken from Zafar Ansari’s English Translation of Mawdudi’s Translation of the Quran in order to have an easier understanding of this verse.

[2] Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, Freedom of Expression in Islam

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April 6, 2009

The Fame That Was Not To Be

On Sunday, while walking down the streets of Arlington, just a couple of miles from Georgetown, my partner and I were stopped by Richard Reeves, one of the satellite anchors for ABC7 news. The hot topic of the day was the missile test by N Korea.

He wanted to find out what our reaction was to the test. He was hoping that we would say it was a terrifying experience. Being the ND taught pacifist, my responce was not going to be that simple.

Instead I just said I think all countries need to do away with nukes, the US and Russia started it, they need to take the first step. As long as even one country has it, how do we expect the others to give it up. infact the danger of other countries acquring it will always remain. Its only when we all do away with then only can we see some peace.  Otherwise what N Korea did was not unexpected so why is there such a big fuss.

He tried again to see if he could get me to give him a more mainline answer.. I knew  I had shot all chances of my claim to fame when I gave him a response similar to my first answer.. so did I make the 9 oclock news?? Obviously not:)

February 29, 2008

The genocide of Pakistani Humanity….

Over the past few decades, acts of violence and terrorism and singlehandedly attempted to kill all levels of humanity within the Pakistani society. Every value that we are proud of, that makes us different from the west, that makes us appreciate our culture seems to be targeted by these senseless acts of violence. As if someone is bent on removing them from the very core of our existence.

What do I mean by it?? Lets identify what we value and then move forward from there.

As a kid, growing up in Karachi, if someone had a flat or car problems, I remember my father offering to help. I remember people helping us as well. As I became a teenager that became less and less. Why was that the case? My father said people would use it as a ploy to steal your car or harm your family. It was safer to help a family then to help a single individual, especially a single male.

As part of Pakistani humanity, I remember driving down stadium road and seeing this old Afghan woman walking through the back routes trying to reach the road. My brother and sister in law stopped the car and offered her a ride. Their good deed for the day. This month I read something in the news that really scared me. A couple was driving their on one of the busy roads of Karachi. Someone got in the back seat and said that he was a suicide bomber and to ram the car / building/ police car etc//   This act has killed another aspect of the Pakistani humanity. Anyone who in the past wanted to offer a ride on a hot day to an old man will no longer do so..

On a hot day, I remember poor kids and old beggars knocking on the door asking for food. I don’t remember anyone sending them empty handed. If there was no cooked food in the house, we would hand them some fruits, if nothing else them a glass of water and something to eat. Today we ask how old is the person. Make sure there is no dacoit waiting to  rob the people..

and the list continues…

Are we going to let them completely annhilate our values and our humanity. Our we going to let them completely take over who we are? are we going to let these so called protectors of religion hijack our values and beliefs?

I don’t think so.. I don’t intend to let these terrorists and perpetrators of violence destroy the goodness in our society. What about you? 

This is a work in progress..

November 8, 2007

of Lawyers, Kalam and emergency

Back online after staying away for a few days. Protests in Pakistan still continue. According to the latest news the lawyers are planning on switching their protests from out in the streets to the working of the courts. The lahore jails have become so overcrowded that the homes where political leaders were being kept under house arrest have been declared as subjails. Furthermore the factory at landikotal was also shut down to create more room.. refer to urdu press for more details

I guess the Jail bharo movement seems to be succesfull. The students of FAST and LUMS seem to have joined the protest and youtube is filled with videos coming out of PK.

Our TV channels were not to be left behind. Most channels especially GEO, ARY and DAWN have posted links on their websites where people can see live streaming.

BUt the one news, which has brought hope has nothing to do with the emergency. It is a news from KALAM that dawn reported. It seems that the tribal elders had called a jirga and then informed the “local taliban” that they were not interested in having the militants control their area and just basically asked them to get out.

good for you! the people of Kalam. I thank you from the depths of my soul heart…Now if we can get the “taliban” out of the other areas then the poor people of swat will be able to lead their own lives without fear of bomblasts and threats and the government will no longer have an excuse to continue with this “emergency”. So the question is.. is it still being called that or have accepted that it is a martial law.

so is a martial law in any other name still a martial law??

I am still wanting to be an optimist and may even wait and see if uncle musharaff plans on living up to his promises of holding elections in February. I guess the situation will hopefully be a lot clearer in the coming weeks.

over and out

a confused citizen of Pakistan.

September 14, 2007

The Voice of a UniKarian

Sitting in DC I read the news on GEO News about a grenade attack and firing in a mini bus in front of Karachi University. According to the first news 6 people have been killed. (They later increase the number to 7)

 

A sudden sadness and anger overwhelms me and I am immediately taken back 4 years- The commute, the bus stop, talking to friends, waiting for the G7.  The G7 is something that all us students have taken many times over. For many of us it was our daily commute.

 

How can someone be so heartless to partake in such an incident? If it was because of rivalry between students group, has the value of life become so meaningless?

 

I spent 4 years in Karachi University. I think those were the last few years of peace at KU. We had student clashes. We accepted it as a part of our life and also of our political training, there were injuries but never deaths. But that’s also because weapons could not be brought in, ( or would not be brought in) but now the rules seem to have changed, the battleground has moved from within the campus to just outside, putting every student’s life at risk.

 

The blame game has started, each side putting the blame on the other, but what is even more sad is I would not put it pass either of the parties to have done this. They value the life of their opponents as worthless.

 

It is sad that this is to be our future generation. For those students who manage to keep out of such activities it is even more saddening to know that 10 years down the lane it may very well be these people who hold our country’s future in their hands and not the many position holders and Gold medalists that come out from these universities.

 

When I started at the department of IR at the University, I remember in my earliest conversations with students coming from political backgrounds, I was repeatedly told that Karachi University was the best training ground for politics and that was the reason why parents preferred to send their children to KU for at least a couple of years. I also strongly believe their parents sent them for training, not to have them killed.

 

If you have no value for life between the ages of 20 and 30, how much value are you going to have for it at the age of 40 or 50?? Can someone please answer that question?

 

For that matter, if you have no value for human life what are you doing studying in a medical college? Or has studying on cadavers made you so heartless??

 

Over and Out

 A very sad and frustrated UniKarian

July 25, 2007

Lal Masjid and Madrasa Reforms

The Lal Masjid fiasco has once again brought to the limelight the issue of Madrasa reforms. The 9/11 commission reports issued in the US seem to consider the Madrasa education as a root source of problems. In fact there seems to be a general belief amongst the western population and media that these schools help promote intolerance and extremism and are the recruiting grounds for terrorists.

Although acknowledging that it is only a small minority that promote extremism, the question still remains how can Pakistan help change the system while still maintaining the benefits of the Madrasa’s? Many families, especially those coming from rural areas, send their kids to madrasas where although they are provided a basic education heavily focused on religion they also provide support to the family by taking care of these children by providing them with free board, education and two square meals a day. For families who can barely afford one square meal a day, having one or two kids taken care of lands up being a great source of relief.

In addition, children need religious education along with secular education. I think in order to overcome this issue the Pakistani policy makers will do well to observe the Indonesian Religious schools also known as Pesantrens. These pesantrens are noted for teaching a moderate form of Islam.

The pensentran that I had visited was located in Bogor Indonesia, located close to the Indonesian Capital Jakarta. The Madrassah Aliya Nagri is Muslim religious high school run by the department of education and the department of religion. The school is coed, and provided both secular and religious education. I have quoted a journal entry that I wrote incorporating my initial thoughts when I first visited the school. “I visited the school and wished all religious schools could be similar.

The children are provided a well rounded education. The classes are mixed and there is free interaction between the two sexes. The female students and teachers wear the hijab but this in no way restricts their freedom of interaction. The students pray together, but during breaks take out a guitar and join in the singing as well.

In Pakistan half the religious schools would probably teach you that singing is not allowed. I feel the mix that they have in Indonesia will allow them to be more tolerant not only of other religions but also of those who tend to be different within our own religion. “

The government of Pakistan would do well to invest some resources in figuring out what it is that makes these pasentrans work so well in Indonesia and what is the reason that almost 20% of the student population in Indonesia obtains their education from these schools and high schools and why is it that Indonesia is still able to maintain its reputation as a moderate Muslim country even with such a widespread madrasa system?

I believe it is only through learning from the Indonesian experience and making the necessary changes within our own will we be able to not only maintain the benifits of the madrasa system but also prevent it from being exploited by extremist elements.

over and out!

April 26, 2007

SAT & The STANDARD OF EDUCATION

Filed under: Colleges,Education,SAT,Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 4:06 am

As I sit here correcting a practice SAT test that some high school students took, I am stunned by the level of education. While some students seem well of their way to becoming college freshmen, at least half of them seem unable to cope with high school let alone college.

while reading some of the work, I am reminded of students I had taught back home, for whom English was a secondary language. Many of these students only started learning English in 5th or 6th grade and that too three times a week for 30 min at a time.

It was shocking to see a similar standard in 20 % of the class where English is supposed to be the mother tongue as well as the language of instruction.

I believe the educational system that divides students into advanced, and or slow does not do justice. While students who are gifted, should be provided with opportunities, those that are slow learners cannot be parceled off to classes for ” slow learners”. By doing this not only are we doing an injustice to society we are also doing a great injustice to the students themselves.

If 16 year olds have a problem writing a 10 line paragraph on any topic, then I believe their is something massively wrong in the system that has allowed these students to come this far without correcting the mistake.

Not only are we giving this students false hope, but also setting them up for a great disappointment for although they may graduate from school, they have not learnt enough to enter any college.

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