Sunday, December 16, 2012

Life, a drop

A stream
Of people gone by
Of people to come
The lands lost
The footsteps earned
The walk, futile talk
But the drop, which never stops
Calling the universe
To come hear its struggle
Against the citadel

Silence
In the loudest plains
Concrete, and nothing crude
Yet the drops protrude
The secret

Secret
Known to many
Having boundaries, not any
With a message uncanny
Of the greatest epiphany

To hold on!

To hold on,
For the water to drop
Till the concretes crop
And when it is over,
The drop becomes the stream
Of people gone by
Of people to come

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Questions

How real are we?
How unreal are we?
If we are real, what is our reality?
There have been other humanities before this, how do we relate to them?
Do we relate to anything else but our own desires and temporary wishes and petty likings?
What are we running after?
There are other non-human spiritual beings that surround us. What is our relation with these other beings that are with us?
Will we find God after all?
Will we ever get to our destination? Or is there none?
Is knowledge everything?
When will we truly know the meaning of love? Would we understand it after getting the knowledge or can we fall in love without it?
This could not be the lament of the reed that Rumi wrote about, "hearken to the reed flute...", this is a simple confusion.
Without knowledge, it is nothing by frustration.
Does knowledge come with pain?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Salam alaik vs. Salaim alaikum

I knew the difference between alaik and alaikum, the latter being the plural term to address some people instead of one person. But just asked my colleague and good friend about it, and his explanation was actually very interesting and refreshing!

He instantly replied, that Salam Alaikum means to pray for peace to be upon the other person, the Mala'ika (Angels), and everyone else with the other person, whereas Salam Alaik means only that specific person.

This is not something new, to be honest. We all know that the angels who write our good and bad deeds are always with us, and that angels also protect us from bad happenings, and our actions either attract or repulse them from us, so, yes, if someone says Salamun Alaikum to me, he is actually addressing the other entities attached to me - a reminder that I am never alone - Wow - how could I miss or forget this fact?

Sometimes, even the basic of things have meanings that are profound enough to shape the direction of one's life.

As-Salam Alaikum dear readers!
:)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Simple

I like simple people, with simplistic routines.

Those who take great pleasure everyday dunking at teatime, or the evening, with having no focus on anything, but only some light focus on not to let the biscuit soak to break in the cup.
Those who routinely walk to the bus stand, thinking nothing, just breathing in the morning wind, and nothing.
Those who walk silently in the park with no or least thoughts in their minds.
The aunties or grannies who keep knitting for weeks to get a small sweater done.
Those who have a habit of walking while holding the other one's hand.
Those who don't cry a lot, or laugh a lot, but yet truly enjoy their every day routine.
The guards who give a regular and honest smile, whenever you enter.
Those who clean the same part of the street everyday, with the same interest.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Another of Rumi's Ramadhan poems...


Last year, we had a conversation that brought us to a few interesting poems by Rumi on the topic of Ramadhan.
One of them, for which translation was not available anywhere, was translated by one of the persons in the conversations, and it is time for it to be blogged:

اين دهــان بستي دهــاني باز شـــد 
تا خـورنده‌ي لــقمـه هاي راز شـــد 

You closed this mouth, another mouth opened
To allow you to feed on the morsels of the secrets

لــب فـروبــند از طـعـام و از شـــــــراب 
ســـوي خوان آسـمــاني كن شـــتاب 

Seal your lips to food and to drink
Hasten towards the heavenly table

گـر تــو اين انبان ز نـان خــالي كـــني 
پـر زگـــوهــــر هـــاي اجــــلالي كـــني 

If you empty this sack of bread
You may fill it with glorious jewels

طــفل جـان از شـير شــيطان بــاز كن 
بــــعـــد از آنـــش بـا مـــلك انـــباز كــن 

Refrain the infant from Satan's milk
Then join the company of the King

چند خوردي چرب و شيرين از طـعــام 
امـــتحـــان كــن چـــند روزي با صــيام 

How often you enjoyed the rich and sweet meals
Now test a few days of fasting

چــند شــب ها خواب را گشتي اسير 
يــك شـــبي بــيدار شــو دولـــت بـگير 

How many nights you have been the prisoner of sleep
Stay awake one night and acquire the riches

- مثنوي معنوي - رومي

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Don't save what is already lost


I never blog on political issues (hint: journalists are also part of it, hence I don't comment on them either). But an article today compels me to write something, or rather, shred and comment on the write-up.

Before I begin, I should clarify that I don't watch TV, neither do I have any interest in the journalists and/or the media, as they are mostly orchestrated or are biased.

So, Mubasher Lucman, he is still around.

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/06/29/comment/columns/i-am-still-around/


A few weeks back, someone leaked offline videos during an interview of Malik Riaz conducted by Mubasher and Meher Bokhari on Duniya TV. During these offline breaks, the videos shows how the interview was orchestrated and was staged. This caused Mubasher Lucman to step down, and leave the channel. Since then, this is probably the second attempt to regain his lost confidence in the eyes of the public (first being a YouTube video reply he did few days back).

Being a ostrich doesn't help

Mubasher Lucman hasn't seen that video/footage himself.


What happened in the infamous Malik Riaz interview is now common knowledge and I guess millions have seen the video and commented on it. Millions may have seen it but I have not. That’s right. For the last two weeks or so, I have not seen the television nor read any newspapers out of serious depression.

Hain?! Are you serious? Mr. Lucman - you place serious question to the politicians, you put them to test, you even grill them on interviews, and here you are acting as a 16 year old girl being bullied in a high school? I know men can be sensitive, and depression is OK in a lot of scenarios, but no, when accusations are made on an honest man - he faces them aggressively and refutes them with confidence - you are a journalist and good with words, I believe you can even do better than a normal man in that context.

There is no "story"

Sadly all those so called sensible journalists that teach us ethics of journalism on television never even once asked for my point of view, or my side of the story. So much for impartiality and fairness.

Look, a point of view is taken when there is something to clarify - there is no "story", the simple thing to understand is that the video is clearly showing that the interview was staged. OK, I should also clarify what 'staging' means: When you discuss with the interviewee what you will ask and what he will respond, that interview becomes staged. Especially when you know the interview is a Live interview where there is no editing, and that's the point of Live interviews - to surprise the interviewee with questions and to get his feedback LIVE, no editing, no cut-copy-paste-trim.

Grow Up

They tell me each setback makes you a better man. I am not sure if one wants to be a great man at this cost?

I was reminded of the high school motivational lectures given by teachers to the youth. I can tell you many more such quotes, "Many destruction are renovations" (Rumi), etc. You are a grown up man, and please remember than at your age there is a high probability of turning back to the "default settings". But even considering you out of this probability, the setback-causes-to-become-a-better-man happens when the 'man' accepts and admits his mistakes and owns them and then learns from it and gradually wins the confidence. You are not doing that. You are trying to save what is already lost, the trust, and that's the typical approach we have already seen with Aamir Liaquat, Maya Khan, and recently Salman Butt, the cricketer, is also following the same approach: Not accepting their mistakes and not washing them up. Two words: Grow Up.

Assange, remember him?


Moreover, another thing that baffles me was the barrage of articles and comments praising a thief who stole the footage to upload it on YouTube. I respect the great cause but how in the world can anyone justify theft for any reason whatsoever. So much for our broadsheet ethics. Sadly, I still belong to the school of thought which does not allow me to condone robbers and thieves.

Very sad. I sense the same strategy and stance the U.S. and others have on the case of Julian Assange. They say the same exact words: Assange is a theif, and he has stolen the property of U.S. military and the cables he 'leaked' should not be leaked to public as they were their 'property'. You know what these people are called who leak such stuff?: "Whistle-blowers", they risk their lives to do such moves, and the media make hefty amounts out of such acts. Journalism means to inform the citizenry with the truth - and it was done by leaking your videos. Rethink, please. And yes; Grow Up.

Don't deviate

Quotes were edited to give false impressions; a harmless phone call was made to appear as dictation by the federal government whilst a detailed text message by someone in the opposition was forgotten as a child’s remark, for that suited them.

That was not the point. Lets not complicate, shall we? The whole point, to reiterate, is that you were discussing what to ask and how the interviewee would respond - this is called "staged interview" - and that is what is wrong. Simple, please try to understand this, and you will understand this when you watch the video yourself which you say you have not watched yet. Please don't complicate and play with words, grow up.

What goes around, comes around

A harmless joke on the day comes back to haunt me as some took it very seriously.

What goes around, comes around. Yes. And, please remember that your profession calls you to be serious and objective, not to kid around. Please stop joking and be serious, grow up.

Rant

On the fateful day, nothing went right for me. A small car accident, a ticket on the motorway, losing some neck ties and then boardroom arguments that turned unpleasant and so much more.

Rant. No one's interested. If you are trying to gain sympathies, then you're not being a pro at it here either. No one gives sympathies for irrelevant things, immature people do that. Be mature, grow up.

Note: I don't want to do any character assassination, this is just an analysis. If someone thinks I am wrong, kindly correct me, I wholeheartedly accept corrections of my analysis.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shah Latif, 'Azar', and a random email...


A few days back, I had a conversation with someone where he asked the meaning of my name, Azar. Azar, in literal sense, is the name of a color in Persian; crimson/crimson red. But this name is more associated with Hazrat Ibrahim a.s.'s father/uncle who was a idol sculptor and idol worshiper.


وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لِأَبِيهِ آزَرَ أَتَتَّخِذُ أَصْنَامًا آلِهَةً ۖ إِنِّي أَرَاكَ وَقَوْمَكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ

And when Ibrahim said to his sire, Azar: Do you take idols for gods? Surely I see you and your people in manifest error.
- Quran, [6:74]
(There is a debate over either Azar was Ibrahim a.s.'s father or not, but that is not what I am going into at the moment, and in fact, neither do I have any research on it.)

Following is an email I just typed to the same person, thought better to blog it as well:


Salam

There was a conversation going around somewhere over the internet about Sindh, its culture and heritage, and the feudal system. This reminded me of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, and trying to find his poetry, not that I am any narcissist, but the first thing I found was something interesting, relevant to the conversation you started on the name, 'Azar':



You maintain the appearance of a Muslim, but as a matter of fact, you are an Azar.

But then, this comes from the Sur he called Sur Asa/Aasa, Melody of Hope. So, yes, there is hope. :)

Worth mentioning that Shah Latif was the direct descendant of Ahlulbayt via Imam Musa Kazim a.s., attaching herewith his genealogy as noted in the book Sufis of Sindh by Motilal Jotwani (http://www.apnaorg.com/books/english/sufis-of-sindh-1/sufis-of-sindh-jotwani.pdf), 



I have been to the tombs of Makli in Sindh, the graveyard, with the graves of these Persian rulers who settled in Sindh when the Hindus were attracted to Islam and married them to spread the religion more. The point is, there is a strange sense of attraction in this culture, they don't feel the same as that of the other or contemporary Sindhi feudal lords, and whenever I still recall that visit to Makli and Bhambore, I get into a strange sort of a feeling, as if the winds are speaking something, as if the winds still have kept intact stories to be unveiled, knowledge/secrets of the unknown. There is a very interesting & famous poem by Shah Latif called Momal Rano, if you get time, read it:

O God, my Lord
Even if you are upset with me, I am still willing to lay down my life for you
My lord, speak to me once again
My lord, forgive your Latif for all his faults and mistakes
Forgive all the mistakes
I will only be at peace when my Lord will reciprocate my love
My lord, forgive all my faults
My lord, stay with me tonight and I’ll make sure that the Beast (camel) you ride is taken care of as well
My lips move all the time remembering you, be it day or night
I sit, gazing into the distance waiting for your return
Waiting till the wee hours of the morning
It is only the song of your remembrance (waee) that I have on my lips, my Lord
O sisters, the Lord will be forgiving and will shower his blessings on Latif

Thanks for reading this random email.

With salaam and du'as.
Zain


Relevant links for reference:
Few verses of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai: http://jamalifouru.com/Shah%20Abdul%20Latif/images/few-verses-shah-abdul-lattiaf-bhittai.php

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The bar called Karachi




Like every end of the concert, she asked me to drive to the bar. I don't like it, but I can't deny that I am myself addictive to the environment. It is not just the wine, the dance, or all the crashing that we do back in the bar, it is also the fact that I have always gone there since I got to the law-bound age of entering bars. It is like my home when I think of celebrating life, in its entirety.

It was the same like always. We entered there, got drunk, and enjoyed. Lisa, the bartender, looked a bit weaker and older but was as fresh as ever in cursing everyone! She served, and served, and served till we were heap! Mumbling in between, "my Danny would have gone to the Ivy league, unlike you freaking beer-drinking monsters!". Garry told Danny was killed when a fight broke out between the "Hoof-gang" and the "Volts", the stupid youth gangs which kinda rule this downtown bar. Dan was serving when the fight broke out, and he was just trying to keep the bar from getting broken, but he got cut and hit badly in the head and died right there. We drank to his name - that shot was free from Lisa! Garry said, heck! We wished you had more sons to be killed - we would drink more on their names! Lisa continued her outrageous cussing upon him. Guess she was crying, don't really remember, we were too drunk and enjoying the music! It was fun!

Originally conceived as a family restaurant, it ended up being a bar, initially it only used to be a modern downtown bar, but somehow turned too dark. And that's what we all love about it! Heck we love the darkness! All the gangs, all the dirty money, the wine, the morphine, hashish, you name it and you get it there! Heaven! The fact that white and black all go together there adds up to the richness of the bar! They get people down and dead every other day - but the bar never lets anything make it fall apart - it continues its lavish servings! That's the beauty of it!

Noah, Eve, and Stephanie, God knows where they are! Guess in some old home, or maybe dead, they don't show up serving anymore. Anyway, doesn't matter as long the wine is served, and the bar is open! We love crashing here, it is Love! Beauty! As an acquaintance once said about it, "the constant back and forth between good and bad, cheerful and gloomy is what makes it what it is: my love!"

And we left the bar at the end. Not really counting how many die there - and why they die - and who kills, and who sells these drugs there - what happens of the bartenders, and in fact what happens of the sane waiters of this once a family-restaurant-turned-bar because of God knows what reasons - ignoring the smell of blood on the tables - liking the red color on the walls without pondering that it is actually red due to blood - just forcing oblivion upon our consciously unconscious minds - as we don't deal with all this, not for us to think anyway!

Don't know why, and what it meant, but they called it "Karachi".



The story is a fiction, and an anecdote to the present day Karachi. English characters were used because such Western modernity and industrial culture is settling in. The bartenders and the daily visitors/gangs represent the inhabitants of the city, and the occasional visitors are people like us, the expats, who keep sending "love" messages for the city, such as; "Karachi is Love!".

People are good everywhere generally, and yes, Karachi has wonderful, hardworking, loving, and serving people - but that's not what is focused here - what is necessarily focused is the gruesome nature the city has adopted.

Image of the famous fountain at Karachi's Sea View beach, altered by myself to show the red of the blood. No copyright infringement intended.

Update 13th March 2013:
Parveen Rehman, the architect, and director Orangi Pilot Project, was killed today. I dedicate this to her, and many more of her types. RIP, Karachi.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This is my home, this is my family...




"This is my home, this is my family and we had a family trust setup and I thought I will come back and do something better than your normal 9 to 5 job that I had for many years, very comfortable, very fun. I wouldn't say I am rotting. These are my people and these are my friends and their kids so more than just returning the favour," said Sabbah.

I live the typical life of an expatriate, a patriot but an expat. And, I reluctantly admit that like the majority out there, I am one confused expatriate. I want to go back to my homeland in a few years time, though the plans are getting affected due to the situation back home - but then the thought of other people (friends and family) existing back there hits me, that I am no special.

Anyway. The point is that reading the above lines by a family which went back to their homeland to serve their family rose some interesting thoughts inside me. The fact that I hail from a cosmopolitan, I was given the opportunity to know and mingle with people from a variety of contrasting backgrounds. From the majority Muslims to the minority Christians and Hindus and even the vanishing Zoroastrians/Parsis. And then if we go by castes, there are these eloquent Lucknawis, loving Beharis, expressive Punjabis, disciplined Gujratis (Bohras/Khojas), the fearless and strong hearted Pathans/Pushtoons, the sweet and mannered Hazaras/Baltis, the arts-rich Sindhis, and the list goes on! One gets a plethora of different customs and traditions to get to know and experience. where there is goodness in experiencing this vastness, there is a drawback as well. I am unable to relate to some specific part as my family, the way Sabbah Haji relates to in the lines above.

On one hand, I claim to be a soul which is unable to cling to certain specific ethnicity, that is, I love East and feel connected to it, but the way I perceive and want to exercise freedom, it makes me feel from to be the contemporary west. But, on the other hand, when I try to specify some group of people as my family, I sometimes end up being someone from Sheikhpura, Bihar which is in India - where my parents were born and where my extended family is from! Now this sounds totally strange, especially considering that my parents migrated more than 20 years before I was born, and that I only have been to India once, but I find that as the family which I can say is "my family, my people". Having been to India once when I was kid, I do realize that the group of people I am refering to are now disappearing - the last generation is slowly and gradually ending up - and the new generation are definitely different from the previous in their own way.
Now, when I try to focus and stay in Karachi within the realms of my mind, I find myself totally lost. I have had the typical middle-class, Nazimabad/North Nazimabad/North Karachi friends with migrant parents (Mohajirs) hailing from U.P. and Bihar provinces, I relate to them, of course, but then as I grew up and went to the university - I made more friends - Punjabis, Pathans, and Sindhis. All wonderful people. But, no one to connect with deeply - it is a vast sea where one loses his originality.

But, since Karachi is still the most I can refer to from where I am, I think about people like Ardeshir Cowasjee/Arif Hasan and their types, the stellar Karachiites who, though in their old age, are still fighting the evil and destructive forces within Karachi, to keep it sane, and the new breed like those of Muhammad Abdullah, founder of Karachi Tips, and they give me a sense of belonging to Karachi.

It is vast, and you have to have a big heart to relate to everything within Karachi and keep it as your family, the way Sabbah Haji said it for her homeland.

This is my home, this is my family. This is the place which has taught me everything about the vastness of this world. I have met world-class thinkers, the most loving chai-walas, some great scholars, the most simplest of people, poor and rich, happy and sad, and a lot more!

This is Gold, which sometimes falls into mud and doesn't glitter. Sometimes is a-lot-of-times lately, unfortunately.

Link for the story of Sabbah Haji's family herehttp://ibnlive.in.com/news/nri-family-returns-to-jk-for-a-cause/251146-3.html

Sunday, April 15, 2012

But he who is parted from them that speak his tongue



But he who is parted from them that speak his tongue
Though he posses a hundred voices, is perforce dumb.
- Rumi

Consider a man who has a son he loves the most. His son is a charming young fellow, bright, active, and respecting young soul. The father speaks of his obedience, of his nature towards others, of his behaviors towards his parents and family, of his career, of his friends. This son is now reaching to finish his graduate studies, and is earning honors and awards, so much so that the only thing his father speaks of is his son. With friends, with family, even when he meets any stranger he introduces himself from his son's credibility and brightness.
Suddenly, his son dies in a tragic incident. What would he speak of now?
He would have a thousand voices, a thousand thoughts, a thousand memories, a thousand breaths, but can't utter anything.
His friends come to meet him, his family visit him as regularly as they used to do before, But he who is parted from them that speak his tongue - Though he posses a hundred voices, is perforce dumb.


From the first Masnavi (poem) from Maulana Rumi's Masnavi-e-Manavi, Book 1.
It took me two hours to understand these two lines, it was spring of 2009 (or 2010).
Image by Kathe Kollwitz, 1903. Taken from http://motherprotection.blogspot.com/2011/05/kathe-kollwitzmother-with-dead.html (though it is a Mother, but shown with a persona of masculinity, hence appropriate for the context)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Prayers to God to change our base inclinations and give us higher aspirations


(Excerpt from Masnavi-e-Ma’anavi, book 5, by Maulnana Rumi)

Prayers to God to change our base inclinations and give us higher aspirations.

O Thou that changest earth into gold,
And out of other earth madest the father of mankind,
Thy business is changing things and bestowing favors,
My business is mistakes and forgetfulness and error.
Change my mistakes and forgetfulness to knowledge;
I am altogether vile, make me temperate and meek.
O Thou that convertest salt earth into bread,
And bread again into the life of men;
Thou who madest the erring soul a guide to men,
And him that erred from the way a prophet; 10
Thou makest some earth-born men as heaven,
And muitipliest heaven-born saints on earth!
But whoso seeks his water of life in worldly joys,
To him comes death quicker than to the rest.
The eyes of the heart which behold the heavens
See that the Almighty Alchemist is ever working here.
Mankind are ever being changed, and God's elixir
Joins the body's garment without aid of needle.
On the day that you entered upon existence,
You were first fire, or earth, or air.
If you had continued in that, your original state,
How could you have arrived at this dignity of humanity?
But through change your first existence remained not
In lien thereof God gave you a better existence
In like manner He will give you thousands of existences,
One after another, the succeeding ones better than the former.
Regard your original state, not the mean states,
For these mean states remove you from your origin.
As these mean states increase, union recedes;
As they decrease, the unction of union increases.
From knowing means and causes holy bewilderment fails;
Yea, the bewilderment that leads you to God's presence.
You have obtained these existences after annihilations;
Wherefore, then, do you shrink from annihilation?
What harm have these annihilations done you
That you cling so to present existence, O simpleton?
Since the latter of your states were better than the former,
Seek annihilation and adore change of state.
You have already seen hundreds of resurrections
Occur every moment from your origin till now;
One from the inorganic state to the vegetive state,
From the vegetive state to the animal state of trial;
Thence again to rationality and good discernment;
Again you will rise from this world of sense and form.
Ah! O crow, give up this life and live anew!
In view of God's changes cast away your life!
Choose the new, give up the old,
For each single present year is better than three past.

This is followed by a commentary on the saying of the Prophet, "Pity the pious man who falls into sin, and the rich man who falls into poverty, and the wise man who falls into the company of fools." This is illustrated by an anecdote of a young deer who was placed in the asses stable, and jeered at and maltreated by them. This suggests.

*NOTES:
1. A Hadis.
2. Cp. Bp. Butler, "On a state of probation as implying trial and danger" (Analogy, Chap. iv. Pt. 1).
3. Probably referring to Origin.
4. Koran ii. 264.
5. Koran iii. 200.
6. Koran vi. 142: "Eat of their fruit, but be not prodigal, and exceed not."
7. Or, "If there be no supporter, there can be nothing supported."
8. Koran xxxvi. 8.
9. Koran vii. 13.
10. Koran xciii. 7.

3rd January 2012
The underlined are my favorite lines, and are actually profound. The underlined+italics ones are those I chose for the new year message.

A post for the New Year - 2012

Ah! O crow, give up this life and live anew!
In view of God’s changes cast away your life!
Choose the new, give up the old,
For each single present year is better than three past.

- Rumi
(Masnavi-e-Ma'anavi, Book Five)