Monday, February 21, 2011

The Dear Departed...

Sanwal Javed- Son, brother, angel. (15th May 1990 - 19th February 2011)

Verily, He has sent us. And to Him shall we return.

There are a few people too good for this world, Sanwal Javed was one of them.
He was born with cystic fibrosis, which is a congenital defect concerning all secretions of the body. It is an incurable disease with a low life expectancy. But with the support and love of his family, he was able to live for more than 20 years. He developed acute lymphoblastic leukemia recently which did response to chemotherapy but the resulting suppression of his immune system caused a lethal infection. He stayed in an ICU in Canada for a few days until he left us for his final abode.

It's hard to describe someone like him. Cystic fibrosis patients are very prone to infections so he seldom came to Pakistan. I met him only about 10-15 times but you needed to meet him only once to love him. He was the incarnation of "See no evil, do no evil". A soul as pure as his, could not be that of a human. He was an angel. The only reason I could think of why the Divine decreed so is that God loved him more than we did.

May you rest in Heaven eternally.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Revisiting "Ghazi Ilmdin Shaheed"

Until recently, I was confused about the action of "Ghazi Ilmdin Shaheed". But now, I'm not.

The following article is a result of my own research and the lack of answers to the three lines of argument I will present. I might be wrong but I have the right to have an opinion. Feel free to disagree and debate but don't take it as an insult.

1. Death penalty for blasphemy:
It has been stated/ proved on multiple accounts that the death penalty for blasphemy is not justified in the Quran. I confirmed this with my research and I'll narrate just two verses to prove my point:

"when ye hear the signs of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, ye are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme: if ye did, ye would be like them. For Allah will collect the hypocrites and those who defy faith - all in Hell" (Quran 4:140)

"...but indeed they uttered blasphemy,...If they repent, it will be best for them; but if they turn back (to their evil ways), Allah will punish them..."(Quran 9:74)

We know from our readings of the Quran that punishments are told every time with a crime (which is not there on this occasion). Secondly, the verse also refers to hypocrites i.e. Muslims with weak faith. Hence, not only will Allah punish blasphemy Himself but even hypocrites will be dealt by Him.

As for Ahadith, we know that accounts of both death penalty and forgiveness exist. But we also know that a Hadith is never absolute i.e. it can be out of context. A particular account is narrated by an observer which is not always and never completely done in context. We are told what happened, but we are not (and perhaps cannot be) told exactly why it happened. In other words, Ahadith fall into hearsay evidence.

Now, we have three choices:
a) Allah, telling us to leave the issue to Him, in the Quran.
b) Hearsay evidence of forgiveness for blasphemy.
c) Hearsay evidence of death penalty for blasphemy.

Unfortunately, our right wing chose (and still chooses) the third one.

2. Imam Abu-Hanifa on blasphemy:
I personally do not believe in the teachings of a particular Imam, I believe in Muslim unity. But because the majority of Pakistanis follow Imam Abu-Hanifa, I'd like to share his view on blasphemy.
In simple words, he believes a non-Muslim cannot be given death penalty for blasphemy. The latter will always have such views, expressed or unexpressed. He can be punished under certain laws of the Islamic state but death penalty cannot be imposed.
This was followed by the British Empire when Raaj Pal was sentenced two years in prison under IPC 295-A for publishing the blasphemous book, originally written by an anonymous writer.
It's ironic how the British followed Imam Abu-Hanifa but the Muslims at that time did not.
Detailed answer here in Urdu.

3. Muslims under non-Muslim rule:
At that time, Muslims were under the rule of the British. Muslims were a minority in the United India. As minorities, it is the Islamic duty of Muslims to follow the law of the land (which in this case was pluralist and not anti-Islamic in anyway). The social contract with the government was meant to be followed as a religious obligation. When Raaj Pal was sentenced to prison, it was the Islamic and moral duty of the Muslims to accept the decision of the court. Thus, they went against Islam by taking the law in their own hands. It does not fall into Jihad either because firstly, Jihad is against a nation, not a person. Secondly, blasphemy does not fall in the prerequisites of Jihad.

It is often suggested that since Jinnah was a lawyer of Ilmdin, he approved of his action. This stance is ludicrous. Jinnah was a lawyer, bound by his duty to defend him. The argument can be comprehensively answered by the statement Jinnah made in the Assembly on September 11, 1929: “If my constituency is so backward as to disapprove of a measure like this then I say, the clearest duty on my part would be to say to my constituency, ‘you had better ask somebody else to represent you’.”

Here, I would like to clarify that the purpose of this article is not to insult Ilmdin. A crime consists of two parts- a malicious intent and an act. It's obvious that there wasn't any malicious intent, rather the love of the Prophet (PBUH). The malicious intent lies in those baseless teachings that instigate youngsters like Ilmdin and tell them that (God-forbid) the highest level of love for the Prophet (PBUH) is to kill someone in his name.
Unlike many people who will read this, I do not call anybody (in this case, Ilmdin) a Murtid (apostate) or a Kafir (infidel). Kindly refrain from calling me one too for having a particular opinion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Empty Promises

We, as Pakistanis, never consider politicians reliable. We never expect our leaders to deliver and by default, we don't care. But I just discovered how expecting change and not getting it hurts.

I study in Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore. When I first got admitted, it was an unknown entity. But in the last couple of years, our new Principal, Prof Dr Javed Akram gave it a new identity and made it much more than a medical college. Here is an analysis of everything that was done and everything that has been left as such or mishandled.

What he did:
1. New gates were installed with beautiful pillars around them.
2. A new market was made in a vacant space.
3. Brought a lot of media attention to the college through many workshops.
4. Did good name to the college by holding international conferences.
5. Brought new sponsors to the college (now even the directions' boards are sponsored by Warid).
6. Opened new departments in the hospital (Jinnah Hospital) and the college (e.g. a new post-mortem lab; previously Lahore had only one that was in KEMU).
7. Ensured diplomatic relationships with every group in the college.

These are a few of the very positive steps which won the hearts of everybody. But let's not get lost here.

What was not/ wrongly done:
1. I'm in my fourth year and I am yet to come across a single toilet in the Boys' Hostel whose flush works. Yes, it's that bad.
2. In his first address, he talked about how sad it was that the Boys' Gym had become a storehouse for old furniture and everybody had to play in the Girls' gym. It has been two years and guess what, not only is the Boys' Gym the same but the Girls' gym has now become a storehouse as well. A few days back, I gathered a few juniors to help me make some space in the Girls' gym.
3. Last year, he inaugurated new common rooms for the students. And yep, now they are storehouses too.
4. He made a new waste processing facility but the majority of the garbage is still set on fire in different areas of the college. I once woke in the hostel in suffocation because someone had set fire to garbage outside the window of the room I was sleeping in. Smoke can kill, you know.
5. He has made a Professor in charge of student affairs who is supposed to listen to and solve students' problems but so far, there has been only listening and promising but no solutions.

What it looks like:
If we analyze, the positive steps taken have been just to bring attention and investment in the college but no real solutions have been provided to the problems of the college. The principal come from a political family. His brothers include Parvaiz Malik and Malik Qayyum.
Though he was very popular in the early days, his popularity is now decreasing for being too diplomatic and being too concerned with the media and less with the college.

But that is what everybody else thinks, I just need a gym to play.

Here are a few pictures I took:

The fires:

The current status of the Boys' gym:

The Girls' gym before the voluntary cleanup:

And after: