Lets agree to disagree but with due respect to each other!

Lets agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other!

In the times we are living in, discussions and arguments have mostly gone online. The debates which once were a part of the drawing-room culture have become an integral part of the electronic, print and social media. The options for people to comment online on news, blogs, posts and write-ups etc, have opened up new opportunities for the readers. There were times when after reading something of importance or interest in the newspaper or a magazine, I would discuss it with the people around me. We would talk about the issue, argue, agree or disagree, but never in a manner where the other person would feel that his opinion has been brushed aside, or he is being demeaned for his views. Maybe being polite in a face to face discussions was not only an important requirement of a debate it was considered an essential part of good upbringing, and no one wanted to seem rude or disrespectful to each other.

But the huge swing of technology and the easy access to it, has changed people’s attitudes and also the way they discuss issues these days! As a regular visitor to the blogs of reputable publications, I have noticed how ugly a discussion can become. It may be about politics, religion, a social issue or even a game! Most people with differing opinions mock, insult and in extreme cases verbally abuse those who have a different way of seeing things. This I-will-punch-you–in-the-face-if-you-dare-to- disagree-with-me approach is on the rise by the day.

disagree

People make an argument an ego matter, and win they must, either by hook or by crook! Instead of making it a means to a better understanding of a controversial issue, and trying to see things from the other one’s point of view, they prefer to belittle or mock those who do not agree with their way of perceiving an issue. The use of profane words is on the rise and some people really think it is “cool” to use these words in their comments. The words which once no gentleman even dreamt of using in public, have become so common that even our children are using them! While reading comments I often come across words like absurd, shit, nonsense, unintelligent, ridiculous, repressive, trash (just to mention the softer ones) etc. Some call the other’s views silly, illogical and appalling! All barriers of civility are broken and we seem to forget that there are always two faces of a coin.  

It is perfectly okay to disagree, because it is our basic right to have our own opinion on different matters. But the point we often overlook is that each and every individual has a different view, which depends on his/her social and cultural background, religious beliefs and the moral values which run in a family! And education, though last mentioned, should be the on the top of this list.

Why is this new approach getting so common? What are we teaching our young generation? Have we becoming more egoistic by the day and feel it is our right to thrust down our opinion down our opponents’ throat, least caring that we may even choke them with our efforts? Why is our society becoming so brutally intolerant, with a total disregard for a difference in opinion? Where will this frame of mind lead us too? Why are all barriers of civility broken when we do not see eye to eye with someone?

lets agree

All these are disturbing questions that I ask myself! There is already too much hatred and dissent in our world. Instead of being judgmental, raising accusing fingers and resorting to mudslinging, let’s try to create a more tolerant world through discussions and trying to understand differing views. Or else, we should be prepared to hand down a legacy of hatred and contempt to our younger generation.

In Pakistan, the illiterate have no access to newspapers, magazines or the social media. The less affluent, even if they have a formal education, are too busy trying to make the ends meet to spare time reading and commenting on posts and write ups.  So only the educated middle and upper class are among those who take interest and can take out time to participate in these virtual discussions. Education brings with it tolerance; a respect for the views of someone who sees things from another angle or perspective. And keeping in mind the class who has an access to the social and print media, I think it should try to be more open-minded and flexible. Instead of making our comments sound like a slap on the face, we can make them polite and respectful. Mocking, insulting or ridiculing someone who does not see eye to eye with us, only proves that we are educated illiterates!

Let’s agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other’s opinion. Proving yourself right and the opponent wrong should not be important, a debate should be a means to hone the mind and bring a broader perspective to one’s outlook on controversial issues!

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IF I LOVE ALLAH….!

 

                I am in the middle of an important discussion, attending a wedding reception, watching an interesting talk show (or play) on the TV, enjoying a long drive or just hanging out with friends laughing and joking, when my cell starts to beeps!

                “We have started to recite Kalma (or Durood or Ayat e Kareema) 100,000 times. Please recite ten times and forward to all your contacts. Do not break the chain, as we must finish this today!”       My reply usually is, “This is not the proper way to recite a Wazeefa! We should recite with full concentration and fervour and also in a proper atmosphere”!

                   Every day I receive a number of forwarded text messages about Hadith of our Holy Prophet, Quranic Ayats or an incident from Islamic History! And in the end the sender has the cheek to write….. is msg ko itna phelaao jitna tum Allah ya Nabi SAW se mohabbat karte ho! (Spread this message as much as you love Allah and the Prophet PBUH.) Or it would taunt, “I know that 99% people will not forward this message, if you are a true Muslim, be among the 1% who will forward it! And this one is usually the most annoying, “Allah will ignore those people on the Day of Judgement, who ignore Him in this world!”

          What sort of emotional blackmailing is this? I feel irritated.

          In answer to most messages, I usually hit Delete or if it is from a close friend, I reply, “Sorry, I won’t forward this! Because I feel that this is no criteria to prove my love for Allah or the Prophet PBUH”. And if it is a Hadith or an incident from the history of Islam, I demand “Are you sure this is authentic, if so please let me know the source”.

          The huge strides in communication technology have changed our lives completely and deprived us to some extent of our privacy! Today we text more than we talk, use our cell phones (Whatssapp, VChat etc) and social medias like Face book and Twitters more than we interact with people, even if some of them live within our walking distance. But although this has made life easier (or should I say lazier) there are many irritants to these luxuries also. Unwanted messages at the wrong time, posts on Face book by contacts who keep on insisting (in the name of love for Allah) that I forward whatever they are sending in, always frustrate me!

          Why should I prove my love for Allah and His Prophet PBUH by forwarding messages about Quran and Hadith, which I am not even sure are reliable? Is this the criteria to prove that I am a good Muslim? In my opinion this is definitely not so!

          I ignore the call of the Muazzin when he is calling for Salaat, I do not help the needy, pay Zakaat or perform Hajj although I am filthy rich; I lie and cheat, disobey my parents, I am rude to the elderly and unkind to children, forget about a promise a few minutes after I have made it, but because I forward these (unauthentic) messages, I can safely presume that I have booked my place in Paradise!

          Sigh! If only the path to Jannah was only about hitting a forward key or sharing a post on Facebook! But alas, it is not!

          If I practice the teachings of Islam, fear Allah, follows the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, strictly try to adhere with the compulsory acts every Muslim has to practice, (i.e Eemaan, Namaaz, Roza, Zakaat and Hajj), try to understand what the message of the Holy Quran is and practice the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, I think I have sent the message through louder and clearer!  

         

 

Yasmin Elahi

24-3-13
I posted this blog last year, but the situation and my feelings have not changed! Frenzy about branded lawn is on the rise and new designers are mushrooming to make the most of this mindset! What if political instability, religious intolerance, inflation, illiteracy, crime and uncertainty is on the rise! Who cares for it as long as I can pay for what I want and whenever I want it. Whether I need it or not is another question, to be ignored and brushed under the carpet!

The lawn season is on! To be more accurate it was on even when we were still braving icy winds from Siberia and pulling closer our woollies to stay warm! The designers were racing each other to be the first to launch their lawns and exhibitions were being held on prestigious venues as early as in February! The city was painted blue, green…

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Hypocrisy: The pretending game….A slightly edited version of an article published in The Review (Dawn In-Paper Magazine).

I was reading a book around mid-afternoon, a daily ritual I perform before my afternoon siesta, when my seven-year-old grandson came and announced, “Nafisa Auntie’s call for you Amma”. Oh no, I groaned inwardly! Always at draggers drawn with her daughter-in-law, my friend often calls with her (new) list of complaints. And I am forced to listen to her rants, although I am least interested, plus I do not have such a bad opinion of the poor girl! But I do not have the courage to give my views to my old friend, as I do not want to annoy her.

 

The book was getting interesting and I was in no mood to be disturbed, so I told the little one to tell Nafisa that Dadi is sleeping. “But you are not sleeping Amma!” Looking a bit confused, he reminded me innocently, “You always tell me that I should never tell a lie”. “Run away and do as you are told. I don’t need your sermon,” I scolded him. He left the room, but not before giving me a reproachful look. I returned to my book without having the slightest idea that I had given my little grandson his first lesson in hypocrisy.

 

How many of us go through similar experiences in our day-to-day life? Majority of us are hypocrites as we love to preach what we ourselves seldom practice, conveniently molding our rules and principles to suit our moods and whims (and sometimes convenience).

A hypocrite can be defined as a person who pretends to have virtues, principles or moral believes which he does not actually possess. He is also a person who feigns desirable attitude when in company, although this behaviour does not conform with his true personality. According to Bertrand Russell, “We have two kinds of morality side by side; one which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach.”

So, what is the real cause of hypocrisy? For me, the most important reason is the fear of disapproval of the people with whom I interact in my day-to-day life. I am scared that my true feelings may annoy or hurt them, or have a lower opinion of me than what I would like them to have! So, I take refuge under the cloak of hypocrisy. Also, as I am so obsessed with myself, I usually do not think that something is wrong if a nice person like me is doing it. At times, I lie so sincerely, I cease to perceive my deception, forgetting that I am not deceiving people but only myself. Although, according to Socrates, “The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be”.

Let me explain. I go to the wedding of an acquaintance’s daughter and after greeting and congratulating my hostess I exclaim, “Wow! Salma, you look so beautiful in this maroon dress. One would never guess you are the bride’s mother”. Salma blushes as she guides me to a seat and moves away. “What a terrible colour to wear, looks so loud for her age!” I whisper to a common friend sitting next to me. “But you were complimenting her for her dress just a moment ago.” She looks surprised. “Do you know she is the principal of my grand- daughter’s school? I can’t take the risk of annoying her,” I reply with a smug smile.

Umar Adil, a young businessman, believes, “Hypocrisy has become a second nature to most of us. In today’s world what matters to us the most is what other people think of us. Even our opinion about ourselves is based on those views. I am a real man living in a real world and trying to prove myself. Yes, naturally I am a hypocrite. What I say and preach is rarely based on what I practice and most of the time I do this to create a cool impression. The remedy to this issue is accomplishment. Once you prove yourself a successful person, you find your actions speak better than the hollow sermons you never tire of giving. I know I can get over my hypocrisy (i.e. if I want to do so), but the time is not ripe for it yet!”

Freelance writer and journalist Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam gives her views, “Hypocrisy, to me, is a form of lying. Unfortunately, we all end up indulging in it as there are contradictions in our personalities, our lifestyles and our beliefs. We often portray ourselves to be something that we are not. I think true liberation comes with being one’s true self under all circumstances. People who don’t accept us the way we are don’t deserve to be in our life.” When asked if she is a hypocrite, she replies with a smile, “This question actually teaches me to be less judgmental. Commenting on others’ actions should be avoided, as at times we may end up doing the same thing in similar circumstances”.

I know many people who can be called hypocrites, but I have never been able to muster enough courage to tell them so, as I myself am a hypocrite. There are times when I really feel ashamed of my hypocrisy and wonder what measures I can take to minimize it. Maybe this can be achieved by trying my best to always do and say what I believe to be right and not changing my values to justify my actions. On other self-righteous moments, I overcome my guilt by reminding myself that I am an honest hypocrite and unlike most people, have the courage to admit my weaknesses.

Society: Free for all

It is for you, for free! You receive it all the time, unsought, and more often than not, unwelcome and irritating! Anytime and anywhere, you just have to mention a problem! Advice will pour in from all quarters.

We love to meddle in everyone’s affairs, whether asked for or not, we think it is our birthright to dole out our valuable advice, even in areas we have little knowledge ourselves. Be it major issues like an illness, problems at your workplace, parenting, selecting the perfect spouse for your children, differences with the in-laws, or minor day to day issues like where to shop for what, which colour or style you should choose for your dresses, how to cook a perfect qorma or nihari or maid problems, we have something or other under our cap which we gleefully dole out to friends, family and even distant acquaintances.

Sometimes we casually mention a problem just to feel better after a bit of unwinding, but we are taken aback by the flurry of advice we are bombarded with. Minding other people’s business is the most popular hobby of the majority of people in our part of the world. Very few wait to give advice only when it is sought. People just love to flood you with their opinion about what course of action you should take in a given situation.

Sumeira, a young home maker says, “In the early years of my marriage I had problems with my in-laws. My husband was too attached to his parents to understand my point of view. I was young and inexperienced and at times, in frustration, I discussed my woes with my friends because I just needed a sympathetic ear and someone who could sympathise with me.

But now I have learnt to keep my troubles to myself, as the unwanted counsel I got was not only impractical but even sometimes got me into trouble. Over the years I have developed strong bonds with my in-laws. I thank God that I did not pay heed to the advices of my well meaning but immature friends”.

Sheema, a young mother, says, “Experience taught me never to talk about baby problems in company. When my first child was born, I just had to mention one and I was flooded with unlimited suggestions on how to feed, burp, bathe or even dress the baby. If the child was sick, senior mothers were quick to recommend the medicines they used for similar symptoms.

Elderly women offered home-made remedies and were actually annoyed if I did not follow their valuable advice”.

Rehan says sarcastically, “I wonder why people have to meddle in the personal affairs of everyone they can reach out to. If I am sick and under the treatment of an allopath, acquaintances will tell me to go to a hakim or a homeopath! The choice of school I made for my children was always wrong for some people who were quick to suggest better options. When my daughter chose red for her wedding dress, her friends insisted that that it was outdated and white was the ‘in’ colour for the bride those days. I mentioned to my friends that I was having problems with my boss? ‘Resign immediately’ was their prompt advice! ‘After all your self esteem is more important than a job!’ If, in the heat of the moment, I had been foolish enough to follow their advice I am sure I would have found myself jobless for the next six months”.

Anisa Zia, a friend, sums up the issue in a practical manner, “Many times I have been a victim of unsolicited advice and ended up listening intently only out of respect. Actually I think the purpose in most cases is not altogether bad because the eagerness to help us resolve our problem may be the only reason why people come up with unasked for advice. But making it a ritual is what one must abstain from. I think the ability to judge whether to give in or control the urge to add our two bits comes from practicing our listening skills rather than exercising our speaking ones”.

Unwanted advice may be in good faith but before giving out our qeemti mashwara, we should understand the fact that circumstances vary from case to case and decisions have to be made according to them. Thus no hard and fast rules can be set which everyone can blindly follow! So unless someone seeks our advice, and lets us know the pros and cons and the consequences of different choices or decisions, we should not give in to the temptation of giving it away!

KILLERS ON THE LOOSE!!

20thApril 2012:

My heart is breaking with pain and my mind is bursting with anger! Not only Pakistanis, but people all over the world have heard the saddening news about the Islamabad bound Bhoja Air’s Boeing 737-200, which took off from Karachi and crashed (at 7.10AM) in a small residential area, killing all on board!

Yes, I have written those words in red, because I want all my readers to know that the passengers were not just killed, they were murdered in cold blood! And maybe, the color of blood could describe the anguish and emotional trauma I have been going through, since the moment I heard the news!

No, none of the people on board were my relatives or friends! To be more precise, I do not know any of them, by names or by faces. No, they were not even relatives’ friends or friends’ friends, but still my heart cries out in anguish!

9th may

Nearly three weeks have passed to the MURDEROUS flight but my pain and anger refuses to abate….!!!A plane grounded for ten years sold and bought by greedy airlines, tormenting photographs of grieving relatives carrying back the coffins of their dear one, are making my rage and frustration grow by the day!!!

My heart goes out to the family members who are facing the anguish of the loss, but today I would like to state this cruel fact clearly! Incidents like these would go on in Pakistan because of the insatiable lust for money of a bunch of heartless people! To make an easy and fast buck, these greedy people can stoop to any level! Because they know that here in Pakistan, they can get away with anything and everything. Only a fat share from their easily earned money passed under the table, can quiten the voices of those people who can stop or punish them!

I request to all those out there who are still grieving for their murdered loved ones; please let not this be the case this time. There should be a limit and an end to these atrocities! Wipe off your tears and transform them into white hot rage! The best tribute you can pay to the departed souls of your dear ones is to make the cruel owners of the Bhoja and Shaheen Airs face the music of their crime!  The buyers and the sellers of the death trap they were calling an aircraft, are equally responsible for murdering your dear ones!

Sue them, drag them to courts and squeeze out of them every penny of the dirty money they have earned at the cost of the flesh and blood of people vibrant with life! Get the licenses of the Bhoja Air, Shaheen air (and all airlines who are operating dangerously old planes) cancelled. (And readers please note that Shaheen and Airblue are still operating these aircrafts!) The owners of the private airlines, the CAA and the related authorities of the Pakistan government, are all “Killers on the Loose”, as they have turned a blind eye to the operation of these planes!

Do not accept compensations! Who can compensate for the shattered dreams of the families of the newly wed couple who were going to their honeymoon! Who can pay for the anguished tears of the sister who wept inconsolably on her brother’s coffin? (And these are only a couple of examples from the 123 stories of the victims!) You have buried your near and dear ones but there are open doubts whether it really was the person or only pieces of corpses put together to complete a dead body!

Though I can only try to fathom the depth of your pain, but I request you to make this pain a tool to make sure such incidents are not forgiven by us!

Join hands against this callousness, form action committees and work on the basis of eik aur eik gayara (one and one make eleven)! Those of you, who have money to spare, create a pool and employ the best available lawyers against these airlines! Those who can not spare the money, create support groups to help out each other! And I request you to strike while the iron is hot! Because I feel sad to say that we Pakistanis have a very short memory! Today, the pain and anguish is nationwide, but tomorrow this will not be the case! We shall quickly move on to some other news, tragic or happy!

If the heartless people who have played havoc with the lives of both the murdered and the survivors get away this time, remember they will keep on striking under changed names! If you prefer to remain quiet and just grieve in silence, remember that you are strengthening the hands of these brutes and History will hold you equally responsible for this crime!

Na samjhoge tou mit jaaoge ae Pakistan walo

Tumhari daastaan tak bhee na hogi Daastaanon mein!!!!

(This blog was snt to many publications, but I am sad to say that it was turned down saying that the language I have used is too HARSH!!!! But I still say that no words used can be “Harsh” enough for this callous attitude of our private airlines!)

ENOUGH IS (NOT) ENOUGH!!!

24-3-13
I posted this blog last year, but the situation and my feelings have not changed! Frenzy about branded lawn is on the rise and new designers are mushrooming to make the most of this mindset! What if political instability, religious intolerance, inflation, illiteracy, crime and uncertainty is on the rise! Who cares for it as long as I can pay for what I want and whenever I want it. Whether I need it or not is another question, to be ignored and brushed under the carpet!

The lawn season is on! To be more accurate it was on even when we were still braving icy winds from Siberia and pulling closer our woollies to stay warm! The designers were racing each other to be the first to launch their lawns and exhibitions were being held on prestigious venues as early as in February! The city was painted blue, green and red as (semi dressed) smiling beauties looked down upon us from hoardings everywhere! Was there a faint look of disdain in their eyes or my imagination was playing tricks with me? This is a question I still find difficult to answer.

Try as I do to resist to the exhibitions, at last I give in to temptation (Sigh)! Although I know that my cupboards are over flowing with dresses, some of which I have not worn for months, and I have clothes enough for a life time, still I compelled to go to at least three or four exhibitions. After all, all the rich ladies I know are going and buying lawn suits to their hearts fill. I try to satisfy that inner voice inside my head which keeps on troubling me by always speaking the truth! Ok, Ok I will not buy much, may be a jora or two, at least I can boast to my friends and acquaintances that I am also one amongst the privileged class who visit and can afford the designer lawns inspite of their staggering prices.

So, hushing up the voice which perhaps is my conscience, I call a friend and pompously ask her to accompany me. And I am careful to choose the one who has a big mouth and loves to gossip! I know that if she goes with me, the news would be spread among my circle in no time!  Logon ko pata tou chalna chaiye ke mein bhee designer lawn pehnti hun! Because most of my friends from the lesser privileged class have to be content with wearing copy suits of the branded lawn suits!

And at the exhibition, I simply give in to impulse! How can a clothes lover like me resist when the material is so soft, the colors and designs so vibrant and when my wallet is full of five thousand rupees notes?  Who cares about the prices? I am buying the suits only because I can afford them. Again I hush up the voice in my head which is now protesting loudly. Remember? It reminds me, only today the maasi was asking for a couple of thousand rupees to buy the syllabus of her daughter for the new session in school, but I had flatly refused. And my driver complained today that although it was only the 20th of the month, he had nothing left from his salary so his family would have to do with roti and onion for the remaining days of the month! And the sabzi wala was asking for some monetary help as the canopy over his theila had broken down and he had to face the burning sun as he moved from one lane to another selling his sabzees. He had even offered that he would adjust the money in the vegetables my cook bought from him daily but I had flatly refused all these people.

Ok, ok I again try to shut up this troubling voice; now don’t spoil my shopping spree. I tell it angrily. I will give 500 rupees to Maasi tomorrow and she can get the rest of the money from the other houses she works for. Theika tou nahin lya hua uska mein ne! I am angry at the voice which refuses to shut up! As for the driver, there are still some packets left from the meat with which I had stuffed my freezer at Baqraeid. The kids don’t want to eat it any more as the meat smells a bit stale. Only yesterday, when my cook prepared a delicious beef roast, they refused to have it for dinner and had insisted that I order for pizzas to be delivered at home! But the meat would be good enough for the driver’s family. At least it is much better than having only onions with roti!  I console myself further. Sabzi wala can also have a thousand rupees as a loan. I am sure the cook will recover this amount even before the week is over! Now, thankfully, my mind is absolved of all the troubling thoughts!

Back home with my treasure, I try further to justify my unnecessary shopping! Tomorrow I shall give away some suits. I open my wardrobe and in a fit of generosity (and somewhat guilt!!), I pull out six suits one after another. These will go out to replace the ones I have bought today, I soothe my ruffled conscience.

But by the time morning arrives, I have changed my mind! This blue dress is as well as new. Why! I bought it for 4000 Rs only last year! Or was it the year before? I try to remember as I fold it and keep it back in my wardrobe. This pink one was a birthday gift from Mummy; so it has an emotional value for me! The third one is my favourite color. Ah, black has always been my weakness and I can not bring myself to part from it. And the hazel brown has such a pretty print, and my friends always say that it compliments the color of my eyes to further beautify them (Blush)! So, four out of the six suits I had vowed to give away yesterday find their way back to my wardrobe and I have the heart to give away only two! What if one was a bit faded and the silly dhobi had torn the doppatta of the second one. Both the suits are still much better than the one my Maasi is wearing now…. At least they do not have patches on them!

Although my inner voice always troubles me, but luckily I am smart enough to find a hundred and one ways to quiten it.!

Life has become one rat race for me as my foremost aim is to excel my friends in material goods! I keep on piling dresses, shoes, bags, jewellery, furniture, crockery, show pieces; anything I can get my hands on, all of which are far more than my requirements for a comfortable life. Even when I do my grocery, I feel happy to pile the trolley with luxury food items, some of which will expire even before I will get to use them. If my friend, Ms X has got a new sofa set and matching carpet and curtains for her drawing room, just to fix the envy that I feel, I can at least have the upholstery of my sofa changed.

The only reason I can give for my extravagant expenditures is that I have money enough to afford them! Enough is simply not enough for me! Shopping for things I hardly need, gives me a high and I do not give a hoot to how this mindset is deepening the wedge between the rich and the less privileged class. And then, I sit in my drawing room with my like minded friends, dressed in my beautifully stitched designer lawn suit, showing off my new sofa and curtains; and as we sip coffee from the quaint china cups I got myself last year from France, we sadly discuss the barhti hui mehengai in our poor homeland!