Saturday, May 29, 2010

Is it all worth it?

I am not trying to rattle any cages with this blog post. Or perhaps it is a sign of my weakening faith, but I've found myself asking some real basic questions over the last couple of days, most notably: Is it all worth it? I mean religion. Did God create one of the most beautiful things in the verse so that so many people could one day abuse it and kill their fellow beings in their attempts to be closer to Him? They say terrorists have no religion, I say every religion has its terrorists - people who are so blinded by their faith and devotion to God that they forget the most basic principle there is: the sanctity of a human life. Is religion just a tool to kill other people in a society with such alarming levels of poverty and illiteracy? Or alternatively, if there were no religion, would people still kill like they do today?

We all believe in leading good lives and going to jannah (paradise), but I ask: at what cost? Is it not a collective responsibility of a religion and a society based on one to condemn injustices and speak up against them. Do you really want your paradise so bad that you're willing to stay stilent on every injustice and act of barbarism you see around you? What good is paradise then? I keep referring to paradise, because frankly we're obsessed with it. We're far too obsessed with being "good" Muslims individually that we've forgotten perhaps the most basic Islamic principle there is: Husn-e-Ikhlaq. Someone asked the Prophet (PBUH) to define Islam in two words, and thats what he said: "Husn-e-Ikhlaq". Islam is nothing but husn-e-ikhlaq, in every aspect of life, individual and collective. That is all, and alas! how badly we have failed at it.

The attacks on Ahemdis two days ago are nothing new in the context of our history, they are another persecuted minority in Pakistan. What has truly been sickening has been people's reaction. How can so many people be devoid of humanity? How can you condone the killing of an innocent human being? Is everything that we practice somehow more important than whether another person lives or dies (regardless of their beliefs)? Time to put things in perspective and root out the proponents of this venom who seem to think all this is OK, all in the name of God and paradise.

If we must ban something, it should be these poison-spewing madrassahs and maulvis spreading such hatred and blatant disregard for human lives. Facebook may have partaken in blasphemy but there's plenty of it going on in our cities and society. How about cleaning our own house first?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

So much for a 'New Beginning'

It has been almost a year since Barack Obama delivered his address to the Muslim World in Cairo, which he ambitiously entitled "A New Beginning". While he was very forthcoming in his desire to bring peace and stability to the world - especially the Middle East - he did admit that "years of mistrust" will simply not go away overnight. Well, to be perfectly honest, they're not going anywhere judging by his actions in office so far. The events of the last couple of weeks have obviously been worrying for the Pakistani in me. While it saddens me to see all fingers are pointed at Pakistan right now, and some for just reasons too, what I would like to know is why nobody tends to bring up the fact that the alleged perpetrator of this attempted bombing belongs to the same area in Pakistan that is continuously being bombarded by American drones for the past 2 years! Now, I'm all for taking out the Taliban by any means necessary, but when your degree of collateral and is so god-damn high (something along the lines of 2.5% success rate against militants), then at least do not pretend to be surprised when someone decides to fight back (using whatever wrong methods they adopt). The fact that a supposed moderate guy like Faisal Shahzad could turn against America is itself extremely worrying. Instead of painting the guy in all sorts of evil, why not go through his life and try to determine what drove him to the brink. Thoughts?

And don't even get me started on Israel. Simply put, America's unconditional support for the Zionist regime is the number ONE reason why everyone dislikes America (to put it mildly). And somewhat surprising (at least to me) is the sheer number of Americans I've met who share that opinion, but at the same time admit that no politician in America can ever get elected to a public office of significance unless they pander to the pro-Israeli lobby. Such is the sad reality. The new right-wing Israeli government has refused to heed to any objections by the international community over their construction on occupied Palestinian land. After backing this belligerent regime, does Mr. Obama still expects the Palestinians to "give up violence", and sit down for peace negotiations?

I do not know what the future holds for us. The world is certainly not getting any safer. On one hand, we have these religious nutbags willing to go to great lengths to cause harm to anything belonging to the West, and on the other hand, we have these powerful countries committing mass injustices (backing Israel, Going into Iraq et al) thereby providing these nutbags just what they need to get more recruits. And so goes the cycle. God help us. Do you see anything changing?

Movies Galore

I know its been a while since spring break was over (heck, the entire semester is over now!), but I got to watch so many movies that I thought I should share my thoughts on some of them with you. So here they are, in no particular order:

Iron Man 2 - Saw this the day it premiered. A pretty decent film, although I was expecting a little bit more from it, but Robert Downey Jr. saves the day for me. Worth watching definitely.

Avatar - finally saw it. Visually spectacular movie, no doubt about that. Good story too. Whether it has racist undertones or not is subjective but overall the movie was good. Didn't deserve best picture though.

Shutter Island - creepily good. Was half-expecting this one to suck (because of di Caprio), but turned out to be pleasantly surprised. You should definitely watch this one. I forgot who recommended this movie to me, but thanks to whoever that was, since I wasn't planning on seeing it.

The Blind Side - Amazing story, and a great feel-good movie. A must watch!

Gangs of New York - A not-so-recent film, but I'd heard good things about it. It was a pretty good movie (even though di Caprio is in it). Having visited New York, you appreciate its diversity even more when you know its history. The movie is rated, so watch out.

Date Night - Disappointed. Not half-as-funny as I thought it would be (given Tina Fey and Steve Carrel were in it). Not worth going to theater for IMO.

The Fourth Kind - Has Milla Jovovich in it, ahem. But seriously, it takes the Paranormal Activity mockumentary thing a little too far. Good movie though.