Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Pakistani media - challenges and opportunities

Electronic media - challenges and opportunities
In last two decades, Pakistan has become home to electronic media. People have embraced free media milieu as a way of life. Society has started thinking (occasionally) and talking (mostly). Nothing can easily be brushed under the carpet, no backyard appears safe for dangling dirty laundry and no prisoners taken. If executive slacks to execute, it faces charges by people through media. If legislature shies away from legislation, it is made to legislate by people through media. Likewise, if judiciary falls short of mark, justice is demanded by people through media. Corrupt and unaccountable are challenged and weak and unheard of are empowered. But media package, like any other tariff comes with certain terms and conditions. Few questions arise, were we as a society ready for such big change? Did we have institutional depth to absorb media’s meteoric rise? Did we have business models to follow? Have we instated enough regulations through regulatory bodies to define limits? Like a nuclear explosion, the fallout of media’s eruption in Pakistani households warrants some retrospection.
Every challenge has the inherent capacity to turn in to an opportunity but if unintelligibly handled, even trivial opportunities tend to pose unprecedented challenges. Situation of electronic media in Pakistan is no exception to this. It promises immense business growth, journalism has one shot at becoming a reliable powerhouse in the country, journalists have an opportunity to cleanse their noble profession and lastly, it can shape masses’ opinion. In this context, media has already attained a place of significance in power matrix of the country. However, this may be the half full part of the glass and may sound naïve as it paints rosy picture of prospects and opportunities electronic media has to offer. On the flip side, these opportunities are not being capitalized by the electronic media to full potential, hence, transforming them in to challenges. At the same time, electronic media cannot be divorced from a nation society fraught with challenges owing to multiple reasons whether bad governance, corruption, injustice, disparity and tussle among institutions or external factors. Media, after all, like any other institution, carries the signature of society it hails from. While institutions promise end product of collective good, their good faith is often fogged by difference of perspectives.
Our settings are not ideal. It is not surprising that amid these mercurial circumstances, electronic media faces more challenges than opportunities. Corruption, security issues, lack of institutional human resource inflows and political partisanship are not strange terms in our daily discourse.
As a powerful fourth pillar of the country along with Government, Judiciary and establishment, electronic media has an opportunity to assume greater role on national issues. Peshawar incident changed Pakistan’s outlook on terrorism, National Action Plan came to pass removing confusions on our approach to war against terror. It helped redefine national policy for synergetic execution. We have seen a clear change in national narrative after Peshawar incident. After a long time, the nation has united. All institutions converged on one point in national interest. First time in last two decades, the nation celebrated Independence Day with full zeal and patriotic fervor.
However, after initial successes, synergy went missing in execution of NAP. On conclusion of recent corps commanders’ conference, ISPR issued a statement asking government to do more. Government reacted quickly by asking institutions to watch limits. Then the ball was put in media’s court. Now it is up to media to cash in on an opportunity to assume unbiased national role or be eaten up by its own prejudices. Ideally, media should play intermediary role by asking the government to do more and telling army not to antagonize government by public statements because NAP must proceed in good faith among state institutions. 
Crescendo of media rise in Pakistan is peaking up. It has opened up a whole vista of opportunities. Media is not only a fruitful industry rather an institution. So far, progress of media is only visible in expensive outlook of media people. Many have shifted Yamaha 100 to Lexus. This progress should not translate in to quality journalism as well. With economic success comes responsibility to take up unbiased stand on national issues. Information and sensation that sells fast is liable to fizzle out even faster. Bigger role of electronic media is the greatest need and reality of our times. More thought than action is needed to channel the energy and drive of electronic media in Pakistan.  

     

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Paris attacks-a perspective

Paris attacks were horrific and condemnable. However, we are not bound to sing to the tunes of western media. From a fighting orphan, ISIS went on to create larger state than Syria and Iraq. ISIS revenue rocketed from 1 million USD per month in 2008 to 3 million USD per day in 2014. Growth, capacity and threat of ISIS was misread by modern intelligence agencies and it proved fatal. Writing was on the wall. Terrorist attack on Europe was coming long time. Someone missed out telltale signs of Paris attacks because mass migration was already hustling Europe. Handling mass march of refugees was something for which Europe was not ready as Europeans had gone too complacent to handle a humanitarian crisis. The very way of life which is the center of gravity of Western civilization, suddenly becomes its Achilles when homegrown terrorists attack them. Multi ethnic composition of Europe is eating up on it. Ostensibly, Europe likes to be called a multi ethnic society but reality is far from truth. Europe has already become the soft underbelly of Western Civilization. On personal experience, white people are absolutely convinced of their  superiority over the rest. This fallacy is so deeply rooted that they will term this observation, sheer lunacy. Humans are by birth equal yet few believe to be superior owing to their skin and resource. An absurdity, with which they live all their lives. Though ISIS had been concurrently taking on Middle Eastern countries, Turkey, Russia, North African countries but never showed enough teeth for Europe but it came to pass in Paris through collusion of its homegrown terrorists and ISIS command (again European Muslims). But see how France was able to bomb Syria within 36 hours of terrorist attacks on its soil. This brings us to the unjust ways of the West which firmly exude that life of a Westerner is far superior to remaining. As long as intoxication of superiority persists, injustice will befall the world and as long as injustice persists, world will see conflicts. People will blame ISIS’ twisted ideology for that but if seen with impartiality, its more about economics and less about ideology. If it was about ideology then war devastated Syrians would have migrated to their ideological hubs in Hijaz and Persia but they opted to head West for better economic prospects. West is also confused why homegrown Muslim kids prefer 'medieval ideology' over their refined way of life? This is where multi ethnic Europe needs to look inwards.
War clouds are looming large over Syria. US and her NATO allies are limbering up for delivering a decisive blow to ISIS. It is just a matter of time when France may push for invoking Article 5 which if paraphrased in French tradition of three musketeers states, ‘one for all and all for one’. In simple words, an attack on a NATO country would be taken as an attack on entire NATO. In the meantime, after re-asserting her importance as a global player, Russia began assuming role of world leadership by bombing ISIS and anti Assad (funded by west) in Syria. Since then, her stature grew in the region. For US, matching Russia’s role in ME was withheld by imminent presidential elections and reluctance of Obama administration to avoid political fallout if they physically attacked ISIS. However, attack on Paris offered a breathing space to US to rally up NATO allies and Russia. US was yearning for lost space in world politics and Paris attacks gave her opportunity to once again play leading role on world scene. US did not waste time on reaching out to Russia on ousting Bashar-al-Assad but Russia is firm on backing him. Though fate of Syria had already been sealed when US funded religious factions in Arab Spring, but they could not have imagined that this adventure(or should we call it a misadventure) would boil down to creation of ISIS. As the cliché goes, history repeats itself and ironically it appears true. Osama bin Laden was invented, equipped, glorified, demonized and smoked out by US allies. ISIS is likely to share the same fate, except that ISIS has bigger coffers than Al Qaeda and may pose greater danger. All signs augur a short game set on hard hitting and immediate elimination of ISIS and long game of government formation (with or without Bashar-al-Assad) through soft diplomatic route.
Before we look for a way forward, Marshall Plan deserves a mention. After World War One, Germany was brought to her knees. Soon, Germany pulled herself together and on first given opportunity fiercely struck back. But on conclusion of World War Two, US came up the genius of Marshall Plan according to which Germany and Japan were brought back to their feet through economic support. Germany, over a period of time seamlessly fused in to Europe as if 60 million people never died in horrendous war. Recover plan was only parially applied on Afghanistan and Iraq. But application lacked political will as US was looking for an honorable exit, not a proper rehabilitation plan. Economic disparity and deprivation is the greatest tool of this twisted terrorist ideology. If parts of the world ravaged by West in recent past are not brought back to their feet in economic terms then sequel of Jihadi saga will continue. First Al Qaeda, now ISIS who knows what will follow.
Someone wittingly remarked and it made sense, ‘as long as West continues to impose her brand of democracy on Middle East and rest of the world, ISIS and likes will continue to take their brand of Shariah to Europe’.  In reality, both are wrong. Both crossed lines. Both paid the price. Yet, for any good to come to this world we live in, both need to change their approach to this matter.
Only Allah knows the whole truth. This is just a perspective. It may not comply with your thoughts. Please do leave a comment for everyone’s education.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

PTI- change or perish

Results of Local Bodies’ Elections 2015 have sent a strong message that PTI’s slogan of ‘change’ has been laid to rest. PTI supporters will again come up with ‘moral victory’ speech that against the odds they did extremely well or it is never easy challenging the sitting govt and excuses of such kind. If it may be asked from PTI, where is the Tsunami? Tsunami is meant to sweep the population away. It does not look for post-election excuses. It also seems that the metaphor has lost luster anyway. Problem is not with PTI supporters but its leadership, which refuses to learn from her mistakes. I have been a stern critic of PTI and it leadership, not for fun or grudge; but I felt this country and its people deserved change. That was only possible if PTI had changed her ways. Change is such a fascinating slogan, it can work its magic on most developed democracies like USA where Barrak Obama spelled his magic through slogan of change and inhabited White House for eight years. Unfortunately, PTI is not ready to lend an ear to any advice, let alone constructive criticism. It does not give the scribe any pleasure criticizing and then rubbing the salt by saying, ‘see, I was right about your wrongs’. I feel sorry for the country and its people.
Fact of the matter is that PTI has done well in Local Bodies’ Elections of KPK but vast majority of this nation is voting for PML N (Punjab) & PPPP (Sindh). So what is different about PTI? Like, other two major parties, PTI has won elections in the province where it has resource and power. Collection of political garbage of past and giving positions to people in party according to the size of their pocket(whether Swati, Aleem or Tareen) will change nothing. So change slogan is dying its own death. What needs to CHANGE is PTI’s leadership. But there is no silver bullet for over-confidence, immaturity, lack of political vision and poor decision making. Even if Imran Khan changes his close advisors it will not change his false impression of larger than life image of himself. Besides, those advisors who did not raise their hand when IK was jumping in to a blind well (second marriage) but when they saw IK’s mood of separation, they all agreed to the idea in the greater interest of the party.
Unfortunately, there will be no sea change in General Elections 2018. People, do not be surprised in two years’ time when same old parties will do what they do best i.e. Punjab to Noon, Sindh to PPPP, Karachi to MQM, Balochistan a hung result like always but what may surprise you, will be the result of KPK.
Like always, we shall leave PTI with some advice for CHANGE.
1.       Stop worrying about changing Pakistan. Change PTI to become a dependable political party.
2.       Live up to the ideology of Justice. Your selling point is not election rigging of others but Justice for people. Exercise your own best judgment juxtapose rigging allegations against justice in the country. Logically,  justice will sell more and for long.
3.       It must be clear by now that Imran Khan is not larger than life. He is prone to mistakes in personal and political arena. He needs some tough counseling or in-house-discussion with his aides in an open and candid environment. He needs to correct his bearing now or it will be too late.
4.       IK must stop slandering others. He publicly appealed to feel his pain on separation but he never lets go any opportunity to pounce on others. Double hypocritical standards must stop now. How can your pain be greater than others’.
5.       People of Pakistan have rejected PTI at grass-root level. Instead of crafting excuses, they again have to look inwards for answers. Establish PTI as a party of common people away from GT Road. Big showings in Jalsas in a constituency will not earn people’s vote. If 50 odd PTI loyalists from each district (most of whom are nothing but opportunists, investing today to make hay when sun shines on PTI) show up in every jalsa of PTI in the country, will always make good spectacle but they need to win elections through winning votes of people of the same constituency.
6.       Get rid of baggage from political waste of the past. Introduce merit in party and re-organize on battle footing.
We want Pakistan to change for the sake of coming generations. If PTI fails to change her attitude towards politics, 2018 will be her last general election. The party will either cease to exist because all those investors are running out of money and patience to hang on to it or become a second string political party without any significant role in national politics.



Saturday, 25 July 2015

Imran Khan's flawed politics and way forward

Have you seen a 62 years old suckling on a lollypop? Mr Imran Khan is one such example who suckled on three lollypops in last year or so, costing his party and nation loss of millions . Third umpire's finger, second marriage and Judicial Commission. Except marriage he is left with nothing to suckle on & ironically this decision will also prove wrong like all previous personal & political decisions he took in his past life. Whether early life flings, marriage with Jamima, supporting Musharraf, reinstatement movement of Iftikhar Ch, Taliban support, support for appointment of Najam Sethi and Fakhru Bhai ECP head, support he happily accepted from establishment, timings of dharna, maximalist & illogical demands from govt during dharna, happy marriage again, calling off dharna short of its objectives, going back to assemblies , bogus statements about rigging without substance; his life is fraught with wrong choices.  His worst mistake has been that he founded his party on Justice and pushed himself too deep in the mire of rigging allegations. True that he enjoyed popular support and still people stand by him. But someone has to puff some sanity in his mind. All previous huffing and puffing proved counterproductive. He usually did not listen to anyone or if he did, he committed political blunders because his advisors were inept.
I agree with people in general, what choice do we have? They have none. Don't mistake Nawaz Sharif for his ostensible Bhola looks as he is the most shrewd politician on the circuit. Entire judiciary and executive is in his pocket and report of Judicial Commission says it all. It did not happen overnight, PML (N) continuously invests in different departments. For example they appointed son in law of sitting Election Commissioner as envoy of Pakistan in Switzerland. Now imagine the pressures of our societal makeup, can Election Commissioner go against the will of his Lordship. This is just the tip of iceberg. This JC report had to absolve two important persons who bestowed special favors on NS during Elections 2013. Firstly, Najam Sethi an employee of a media group with tainted history and weird way of life, who was made interim Governor then rewarded for his services and appointed as PCB Chairman. Obviously, PML(N) refutes this as political point scoring and wants us to believe that there is no real pattern in this all. Secondly, Iftikhar Ch who was reinstated due to all out support of Noon with certain conditions. He did not fiddle with Mian sb and family during his tenure and never opened pending cases. Likewise, he extended full support to Royal Family for winning elections. He was promised important political portfolio on completion of after service ban of two years. His son was given extremely lucrative position in Balochistan which was withdrawn under immense public and media pressure. Now he has been given clean chit in Judicial Commission to give him promised political life. But it may happen that under public and political pressure he may not be given important political office as there is too much dirty laundry in his backyard. They had to give him clean chit because he knows few things people don't know. But they will definitely not give him any important position because it will have greater political consequences. Hence, once again a win-win situation for Mr Noon. They can always go back to him and say, 'we want to fulfill our promise but pressure is too much to implement it'. Again, PML(N) would like us to believe that there is no pattern or substance in all this. Well played, the champions of dirty politics.
Reverting to 62 year old lollypop lover who people believe is the only political hope. If so then he has to mend his ways. Failure after failure and one wrong decision after the other should suggest that there is something wrong with the whole thought process. There are always number of failures before someone succeeds but people learn from their mistakes. IK has to learn from his mistakes.
At the moment, Noon is sitting pretty to make second consecutive govt. Few suggestions may help IK/ PTI achieve better results in General Elections 2018. Some soul searching like:
1. So far IK has failed the basic test of leadership which is to select the right team of advisors. He has to take some stiff decisions to make up for his fallibilities. Irrespective of their money like Jehanngir Tareen or political portfolios in previous parties, purge party of jaded horses who changed affiliations but proved no good to political success of PTI. Make it clear as policy statement, that no one with previous political affiliations will get tickets or hold positions if PTI forms govt in center including ministries and advisory positions. This will give you a measure of loyalty of these lotas. Look if Shah Mehmood Qureshi was FM of Pakistan, it did not change fate of Pakistan. It did not do any good to PPPP as political entity, likewise he will be no good to PTI or Pakistan in future as well. It is the contributions of Qureshi ab and likes that Pakistan stands where it stands today. They are people with "bad experience" is the same field. It is not required in case of Asad Umar because he left his handsome package of CEO to join PTI. You can easily smell rat or fragrance of sincerity in peoples' actions but strangely enough, garbage and waste of past from other political parties has made IK hostage to their stupid advisory. He is going nowhere with current core committee and he will never achieve anything with these alligators in his ranks. This country is loaded with Asad Umars and likes, just do some home work, you will find much better people to work with. If IK does not change his team and re-structure/ re-organize his party then nation can forget about change they have been day dreaming about. Then it is just sloganeering.
2. Re-organize party from grass root level. Give appointments only to old insafians or those who do not have previous political affiliations. Those with political affiliations can always turn back on you like Javed Hashmi. Though he was quite erratic due to age but others also are no different. First given opportunity in any other party, these lotas will simply leave PTI. Establish party roots away from GT road and urban centers. Make ingress in Sindh and Balochistan. PTI is the only replacement of MQM but it will not happen sitting at Bani Gala. People need to see presence and contribution of this party in their affairs. Trust youth and clean people. Give party leadership slots and tickets to people of integrity and then you may be able to make an impact.
3. Focus on issue based politics and be available as a stern opposition who has done her homework, not just wild statements against opponents. Engage everyone with logic and cool approach. If Murad Ali can speak for few minutes without breathing, it will not change PTI's fate. Instead of old crammed lessons, they should bring quality to politics and talk on issues with substance.
4. Pakistan only needs justice, which is the motto and name of PTI but this does not get much mention in their discourse. Justice is such a big problem that our own judiciary has become a threat to our national security now. Judges have not even convicted 7 terrorists against killings of 70,000 innocent Pakistanis. On every national issue, they opted for doctrine of necessity starting from Hamood ur Rehman till Memogate to Commissions on Model Town and General Elections 2013, judiciary has done much harm to the nation than good. Present a case as a political party to harness this menace of judiciary instead of sending Wada to London to hold protests against MQM. Really, who are your advisors? What kind of politics you people are engaged in? Do something about justice sir, this is what you apparently stand for, this is exactly what this nations needs. People are dying like flies and mice and there is no retribution or justice system in place.
5. Deliver in KPK. If you visit Chitral after floods and damage then what is difference between you, Shahbaz and Nawaz. They have been playing these gimmicks for the last three decades. You plan, invest and show how lives are saved. Take out silt during winters, focus on afforestation, raise bunds, make dams, deepen river beds thereby mitigation effects of flood. If you also go for a photo shoot on marooning of people then you  and your politics stand for status quo. Bring reforms. Let them mature. Let people see fruits of your policies. You seem to be in a hurry to make it to PM house. You have to decide, you want to do it through service of people or through ruling people like rest of the pack. If so then where is the difference? You are just toying around with people of this country like rest of them.
 
It is time to change or perish Mr IK. If you donot change your ways now, you will become a page in history who failed to make an impression on political scene of this country like so many other fine men in the past. You and your politics is standing on crossroads and still the ball is in your court to make right choices through some tough decision making. Gather yourself and may God help you.
 
Allah knows the whole truth. Pakistan needs sincere leadership to steer her through dire straits and present political army of politicians is doing greater harm than good to this country which is created for much greater purpose. May Allah protect this country and bring the change it deserves. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Deception and reality of life - Al Kahf (7&7th last)


Juma Mubarak. Don’t forget to recite at least first ten and last ten Ayahs of Al Kahf today and if possible the whole Surah.

Firstly, few words on Fate (Taqdeer). If everything I shall do tomorrow is already written somewhere, what is the point of my being?  What is my role in a pre-programmed theatre of life? Things are happening in a preordained and predetermined manner. If the choices that I make are already jotted down in The Book up in heavens, then what is the point of having freewill? These are few tricky questions and my mind remained occupied with these for some time now. The answers I got failed to satisfy my query.  This one came closer to logic. You have to give credit to Allah for being All Knowing. Have we got life out of our own choice? No. Have we got freewill out of our own choice? No. However, Allah for His title Al Rehman has given us free hand to make choices at will. Now if the choices that we will make are known to Him does not change this status. He has to run the affairs of entire universe and being the best of organizers, He has documented all happenings in advance which clearly stamps authority of the Creator over the creatures, may it be His best creation i.e. Humans.

I have no real qualifications to talk about Quran except that I believe in Allah’s word and feel obligated to share my thoughts to anyone interested in reading. However, I found an interesting connection between 7th and 7th last Ayah of Al Kahf. Please note, this kind of similarity is no coincidence, such patterns are abundant in beautiful Quran.

Let us look at Ayah No 7:

إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الْأَرْضِ زِينَةً لَهَا لِنَبْلُوَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ﴿18:7﴾ 

7.  That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them--as to which of them are best in conduct. (Yousaf)

 
What do we understand from this Ayah? Allah for His kindness did not land humans on earth soon after the creation of earth because it was not inhabitable at that time. Resulting from big bang (for which I agree with modern science except that no particle was blasted rather it was Allah’s will which made it happen out of nothing) the earth in its early years was in gaseous form. Then it attained solid form and got shrunk on cooling down. Then immense rains flooded the world, followed by creation of life on earth. Quran mentions that all life is attributable to water. The dinosaurs and the big quakes must have taken place. Till this point science and Quran are in sync. However creation of Humans is a serious point of difference. Modern science could not come out of the shadows of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Though a deeper study of his work would reveal that he never really had the substance to prove that how long it took chimps to transform in to humans and what made it happen? It is quite demeaning to accept as well when Quran declares us the best of creatures in Al Teen.  Anyhow, this Ayah clearly tells us that Allah through all the process mentioned above, created ideal living environments on earth for us to live. With our knowledge, progress and development in different fields of life, life at earth is becoming more and more attractive. With Allah’s help and blessings, quality of life on earth has improved, pretty much turning this world in to a ‘glittering show’ as mentioned in translation above. But there is a downside to the matter. As much as the life becomes attractive, as much we deviate from our real cause of being which is to do the best deeds. All the adornment Allah did for us from the point of creation of earth till this day was not just to eat, drink and be merry but it was meant to be a test. A test of our inbuilt goodness to do good realizing the fact that we cannot just go by our urges and desires because we are created much better than the other creatures who succumb to their urges. We must sit down today and figure out what kind of best conduct is mentioned in this Ayah? If we fail this test it will have serious consequences. There will be no looking back, no intercession by our Pir sahib who gives us Taweez for every problem in life. Because on the Day, Pir Sahib may himself be running from pillar to post for his deeds/ misdeeds.

Finally, folks, we have not evolved from monkeys. Allah has spread this earth with all its bounties for our service. All the creations on earth are there to facilitate us humans which is Allah’s mercy but there are no free lunches. After having enjoyed all the blessings like food, shelter, clothing, health, wealth, power, position etc etc, we will be answerable for our conduct. The difference from this world to that world is that here punishment is instant. We over-speed and get a ticket by traffic police, but Allah’s court will be established once and for all and full HD videos, evidences and statements of witnesses (our own hands, legs, tongue, earth and other creatures) will be shown to us. No excuse. No escape. No friends. No family. None. Just good deeds can come for our rescue on that Day. The whole arrangement is quite logical for those who can relate it with their inbuilt divinity (little bulb of Noor kept in every human heart). Now look how Allah has sealed the case of those who blindly run after pursuits of this world.

الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا ﴿18:104﴾ 

 104:  "Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?"

7th and 7th last Ayah of Al Kahf are the thesis of this Surah. Life of this world is the greatest Deception (Dajl). Although Massih Al Dajjal will appear in human form in a Jewish household any time soon. Old Rabbis are already calling for all Jews to reach back to Israel because according to their religious calculations and knowledge it is time for him to appear. But, even now if we look around only one ideology is running across the globalized globe i.e. material godless world i.e. pursuit of happiness. Material gains to pay homage to material god of our desires. It is pretty much the greatest deception which is the exact literal meaning of Dajjal. Most of the modern world and ‘aspiring moderns’ among our ranks are Godless because they don’t feel they need of a provider. A false sense of self-sufficiency has sunk in. But it will be too late to correct our fallibilities of life on the Day of Reckoning. These are the times when we can seek refuge in Quran.

Only Allah knows the whole truth.

May Allah be our Guide.

 

 

 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Nawaz Sharif's Politics - Perception and Reality




Mian Nawaz Sharif is not a daft politician. The perception and realities of his politics are miles apart. He is portrayed as a glutton with unending appetite for desi food. Particularly, less aware, young social media users mock him as Nihari & Paye lover. Whereas, he likes plain Aalo Gosht. He is called thickheaded and ridiculed  
for his inarticulate methods of speech.  He might have gone blank on few occasions for which we may call him ineloquent but he is not an unwise politician by any account. His successes overshadow his political failures. He seems to be in good control of things. His political guile has changed my unconscious bias towards this important political figure of our country.


There is a careful thought process behind projection of his persona. His party portrays him as a mild, moderate, magnanimous, Muslim Punjabi political figure. Apparently, there is nothing flashy about his personality. In order to give leader-like impression, he exercises a lot of restrain to strengthen that false public image.He neither uses foul language nor smears his political opponents. Rather he uses his bigmouth party representatives to slander the opposition without coming to fore. In this regard, he is the shrewdest of all politicians on the circuit. We heard ramblings of Altaf Hussain, Imran Khan and most recently Zardari’s outburst against establishment, but Nawaz Sharif never breaks that barrier. Whenever required, he unleashes his faithful bullies like Talal Chaudhary, Rana Sana Ullah, Abid Sher Ali etc keeping his projected grace intact. Does this speak of a food loving thick head? I guess not. It speaks of a politician who knows his game and plays it really well.

Besides his political success, he is a successful businessman with ever expanding family business empire. He has plenty of loyal friends home and abroad. His political acumen can be measured by the fact that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto & his daughter both died but Nawaz Sharif against all odds not only lives but has become record breaking  3rd time PM of the country. After all, an alive PM is worth much more than a dozen dead PMs. Under duress he cut the deal and left the country to die another day. Not only he kept himself unharmed but kept his complete family out of the harm's way.

One fine example of his Good PR outside country was his time in voluntarily accepted exile after 1999 takeover of Pervez Musharaf. Foreign govts do not normally support deposed statesmen the way he was looked after by KSA & UK. He moved abroad with entire family and established business outside as well. He still enjoys popularity among rural Punjab, parts of north eastern KPK and in few parts of Balochistan. His politics is not limited to urban centers or astride Grand Trunk Road. 

His politics revolves around symbolic projects like construction of motorway and metro bus tracks in Lahore and Islamabad. His method of glitz and glitter in politics works like magic. People compare previous tenure of Peoples Party of Asif Ali Zardari with his govt and it is easy to conclude for average minds that he has given “something” back to this country. Motorways and Metros win votes, so why spend on education, health or managing energy crisis. 
In his present stint construction of CPEC can prove to be a game changer if it materializes. Completion of this project will take some doing because it badly hurts India’s hegemonic designs in the region and US’ perceived balance of power in Southeast Asia. These two will do some jiggery pokery to derail this project. Nevertheless, if this project is successfully completed, Nawaz Sharif will have a huge feather in his political cap. I really wish this project every success but its sheer significance makes may bring indirect difficulties for Pakistan. Importance of this project can be measured by the fact since conclusion of bilateral agreement between Pakistan and China, our 'well-wishers' have had many sleepless nights.  

Albeit finger pointing at dictatorial methods of running party affairs, NS and family have a firm grip over party affairs. Despite few defections, party has done well in by elections, cantonment board elections, senate elections, Kashmir and GB elections. Adequate results in local body elections of KPK, considering the fact that there was no real representation of PML (N) in KPK. In May 2013, Gen Elections another impressive tactical move of PML (N) was withholding distribution of party tickets as late as possible. They hired private surveyors to give them accurate assessment of confirm winners from every constituency of Punjab. Despite being the party of one province, PML(N) did exceptionally well by securing numbers in Punjab which guaranteed formation of govt in center. Being a veteran political outfit, any loose ends were tied up during voting by process. Such is the quality of their manipulations that they don’t get caught.  

Power is concentrated in family but no one in family does the apparent dirty work. For dirty work, they have field workers and front men who accept complete responsibility for actions of party leadership for example Model Town killings, Rana Sana Ullah accepted partial responsibility and after few months of quiet, he was rewarded for his loyalty by entrusting him the office of Punjab's Law Minister.  Their corruption gets full legal cover whether exemption of bank loans through fake business defaults, money laundering, expansion of business through promulgating laws that suit their business objectives, use of business guns like Saif ur Rehman, Mian Mansha etc; all speak of their craft. After years of organized corruption and countless accusations, they averted the grip of law.

His greatest success is rising above his extreme hatred for army. He has learnt to accommodate army. Now Army has become his force multiplier. People will forget how Zarb-e-Azab started. But NS will keep claiming and reminding people he did. Every other issue for which he sees long term political gain, he quietly begins to side with army. He played golf with Zia ul Haq when needed and coerced COAS Jehangir Karamat to step down. His magic did not work on Pervez Musharraf but he has learned to trade space for time. He completely backed out on Kargil for long term political gains. No wonder, today, Pervez Musharraf is nobody in country's politics and NS is PM. Likewise, when required, he manipulated and at times coerced judiciary to suit the needs of the time. Mostly, his constant patronage and investment in 'good officers' of bureaucracy and judiciary paid unfailing dividends.

His greatest political success is absorbing and averting of PTI’s dharna pressure. He graced parliament only under immense pressure of dharnas, mustered the support required and never bothered to look back since then. By inviting COAS to 'facilitate' between govt and PTI/ PAT and then backing out, he definitely put army in an awkward situation. PTI with its amateur leadership can now suckle on the lollypop of judicial commission which is merely a ploy to gain time. Election rigging bickering will continue till for another couple of years and NS will just sail through his current tenure.  Again, a political success which cannot go unnoticed.  

We can only measure a politician remaining within the prevalent political milieu of the country. Nawaz Sharif and his ‘pack of wolves’ are no angels, yet there is nothing remotely stupid about their politics.  Current political settings do not permit survival of an honest or stupid political figure. NS is neither of those. Look at present political situation emerging as a result of Rangers’ operations in Karachi. It also speaks volumes of NS’ negative political genius. He has used army as a state tool and cornered MQM in Karachi. In subsequent phase, Peoples Party took her share. He is enjoying a complete faceoff between his political (MQM and PPPP) and power-play opponents (establishment which is predominantly army). In dirty game of politics, one loses space and other gains. NS is gaining political space. He quite adroitly sympathized with Asif Zardari and allowed him a flight abroad along with his family and front men. At the same time, he continues to put weight behind Army operations. He is enjoying a win-win scenario in which both political parties (MQM & PPPP) are taking on army in firm belief that army is pushing the current operation to logical end. 

Now exercise your own fair judgment that someone with this much success cannot be stupid or plain lucky. This does not mean his methods of politics are good enough to earn a rational mind’s support, however, his shrewdness deserved acknowledgement and this blog entry has just done that. He is good for himself. He made fool of a nation for three long decades, made PM thrice and multiplied his business empire. Like it or not this guy is good rather a political genius. Well, next time when you are compelled to think Mian Nawaz Sharif is thickheaded, think again because he might be laughing at you. If perception was reality then English linguists would have not bothered allocating two different words for them.
 
 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Flip side to western civilization


Believe it or not, there is a flip side to western civilization. Lets take a quick tour. Being leading civilization, west has the onus to accept responsibility for its blunders as well. Progress in west has caused more harm than benefit to humanity. The world has already paid a huge price for west’s blunders. Islamic civilization was the leading civilization of the world before west. Muslim academics, scientists and philosophers in 8th to 10th Century took all forms of human knowledge to newer heights. From knowledge power houses of Muslim Iraq and Spain, Arabic manuscripts of all disciplines were transported to Western Europe particularly present day France. This is not a blame, they had every right to do so. Those manuscripts were further translated in to local languages, hence revival of learning came to pass also called Renaissance. The highlight of Muslim civilization was that it did greater service than harm to humanity. However, since 14th Century, based on research, development and intellectual ascendency, western civilization became the leading civilization of the world.

The evilest gift of west to humanity has been democracy. With advent of democracy by the end of 18th Century during French Revolution, humanity saw a new form of government which apparently meant government of the people, for the people and by the people (Rousseau). However, after just eleven years of French Revolution, democracy took the first blow in its infant years when Napoleon introduced his form of dictatorial democracy. It is important to understand what had changed by introduction of democracy? Entire population of a country became embroiled in affairs of state through levee en masse. One man became one vote which became one musket for war. Nationalism was born. Nationalism is less about love for nation or native land and more about hatred for anything outside the nation. Tribal mentality was back in business which meant everyone from tribe was a friend and anyone from outside the tribe was an enemy. Limited war of standing armies transformed in to wars of nations. War aims changed from limited to total culminating in two horrific world wars.

Technology, which was doing wondrous progress during Industrial Revolution, became equally lethal with inventions like gun powder. Japanese were the worst affected at the hands of technological advancements when US dropped atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Newer inventions are getting lethal by the day. Today, there are enough stockpiles of arsenal around the world to blow the world apart in a jiffy.

Christianity was contaminated over a period of time with multiple versions of bible and countless church followings. Catholics and protestant divide was not due to religious belief but sectarian hegemony, social space and economic gains. No wonder, over a period of time religion was sidelined and finally evicted from affairs of life. It became a personal affair and it had nothing to do with politics, economy, sociology and morality. False belief system of Christianity has been restricted to Sunday Church services only. Inspired from leading civilization, few moderate Muslims have tried their hard to take a leaf from fate of Christianity and impose it on Islam as well. No doubt, Islam also took a leave of absence in last thousand years. It failed to keep pace with rapid human progress over time. Now, the humanity has learned the ways of sense perception. Humans are conditioned to believe what they can see or touch. Hence, belief of unseen became a thing of past. So much so, now Muslims, on issue of Islam are either illusive or defensive at best. With the invention of terrorism, past couple of generations even feel ashamed to be Muslims notwithstanding the fact that twenty odd thousand deviants do not completely represent 1.6 billion Muslims around the globe. Again, the rise of western civilization not only intentionally yet successfully relegated religion to back burner in its own society but it also put enough doubts about Islam in the minds of its followers to view religion as an impediment to progress.

Materialism, the mother of all evils is the basis of today’s godless progressive civilization. Creation from a particle and creation ex nihilo is the difference between us and them. What began with nothing will end in nothing but what began with something will remain in some material shape and form. And then the difference grows wide. The materialist relies on his material means, knowledge and skills. This reminds me the story of the man of two gardens in Al Kahf. Reliance of material means is a fallacy and entire world has been swept by the storm of materialism courtesy western civilization’s materialistic lead.

Capitalism is another gruesome gift of current civilization.  The difference between rich and poor in west is huge but it is staggering when measured against poverty in Africa and other slums of the world. This gap is growing by the minute. In a bizarre way western civilization denies access to resources to rest of the world and then shows fake magnanimity to aid the poor. They ensure that poor nations transform in to beggars through tiny aid programs. Then those van guards of capitalism like IMF and World Bank who ensure weaker nations never come out of their strangle hold. Consumerism is in built evil of capitalism. Spend what you earn because a rich man basking on a Bahamas beach needs to get richer. Entire world is being enslaved by brand consciousness.

Greatest evil of current civilization is media. Humanity was never so badly deceived by religious biases, demagoguery or even sorcery as much as by the craftiness of media. From movies to sitcoms, from cartoons to reality shows, from news to documentaries, from intellectual debates to religious channels; media is the greatest lie of our time. It is all about patronizing masses against handsome amount of money from ‘donors’ and advertisers. This is where capitalism, consumerism and media all become one evil entity.

Finally, the easy access to information through internet has made knowledge a redundant commodity. Information is not a substitute of knowledge. Today, entire world relies on quick info responses of search engines. The worst part is that they believe it to be true. The values have further plummeted. Virtual socializing is no substitute for real life socializing. What a pity, a smart handset gets greater attention and time than most precious relations in the world. Friends share obscene content on whatsapp because on other mediums everyone else can see that crap. Kids get introduced to pornography way before their days. Talking of morality is no less than a joke. Most pointless and stupid videos get the most number of hits. This really gives a measure of where humanity is heading with all this progress.

Bad news for my religion weary liberal Muslims is that clash of civilizations by Huttington concluded that godless west has only one threat i.e. re-emergence of Islam any time soon. So, your detachment and self-proclaimed denial of Islam will not do you any long term good. Islam is here to stay, Insha Allah. And, I know few liberal minds must regard this as rambling of a lunatic but world was not changed by bread winning status quo lovers but change savvy lunatics.

This is already too much for a Friday blog entry. The topic merits writing of a book because few aspects need a lot of elaboration but time is always a fleeting commodity.

May Allah be our Guide. Please give your feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Sons of Dajjal

This Friday we shall unmask few children of Dajjal in our ranks. Remember Prophet (PBUH) predicted appearance of as much as 30 Dajjals before the last Dajjal. It is not for the first time that Islam is bombarded with a torrent of planted perverts like Mr Adullah who titles himself a Daiyee but in reality he is the offspring of Dajjal who is born before his father.  A convert to Islam at the age of 33. He was born in Christian household in Detroit USA. He is a gay by sexual orientation and sells his own version of Islam. He calls himself Imam and has opened a place which he calls mosque to spread his twisted version of Islam. While converting to Islam, probably he missed out complete chapter about Prophet Lu'ut's AS nation of Sodom. In his administration, women and men stand next to each other during a prayer and women are permitted to lead prayers. Another one of those 'wrong numbers' as PK would call it.


 But hang on, look at the munafiqs appearing on our TV screens every day of the week. It seems that an army of deviants is unleashed in Ramazan. At Iftaar time today, while flipping through cable channel, I stumbled in to Bilal Qutub's Ramadan shop. He is doing Ramadan program with great anchor of our generation Sahir Lodhi.

It was an unacceptable sight, few Maulanas wearing full make up and designer clothes were sitting across with an actress, doing combined Iftaari. Allah knows what is in anyone else's heart.  But whatever was visible in those pictures was not acceptable. It seriously contradicted the concept of 'Mehram' and 'Namehram'.  How can these Mullahs keep appearing in mix gatherings of Ramzan Shows? They are part of the greater deception. They are the tools of the greatest liar, deceiver and fitna called Dajjal. Are they not the children of Dajjal? Not only Bilal Qutb but so many other maulvis just appear in Ramazan like those monsoon frogs. The purpose of showbiz maulvis is simply to mint money in one month which should suffice for the whole year. They are more disgusting than those actresses who attend these shows. If these showbiz women do not cover their heads all year, they do not do so in Ramazan shows as well. But these maulanas, in stark contrast of what they teach everyone else perch their sorry selves in these mix gatherings of showbiz . Why don't these Maulvis bring their own women on these shows? Or Mr Qutb, the enlightened dirty face of Islam brings his family women on the show and make them sit next to these maulanas.
Prayer at Abdullah's gay shop
Notice the actress at right top corner next Munafiq Qutb
Homosexuality or heterosexuality (adultery) both have no place in our religion. I'm not jumping to false conclusions but first step to adultery is always interaction between men and women in 'conducive' environments and these Ramazan shows and Mr Abdullah is just doing that. Look at these snaps on right and below; both convey the wrong picture of Islam. Most disturbing part is that the other Maulvis are absolutely mum on this shameful display. Probably for the reason that if they speak up against this false practice, it may ruin their chances of making few bucks.
These perverts at home and abroad are no different from proponents of terrorism. Combined together, they all are damaging the most beautiful and the most balanced religion of Islam. If these sick minds are not mincing their false versions of Islam why should we not stand up for true Islam.
Maulvi has done enough damage to Islam and it is time that we accepted our  religious responsibilities. These are simple. Try and understand Islam. I wouldn't disagree if you say that there is a lot of confusion. Who should we listen to? Who could be trusted? There is massive influx of information but which part of this info is true? Here is a simple answer to this, if everything else in religion appears fabricated to you, resort to Quran. Because this one aspect of Islam was, is and will remain unaltered till the very end. Just connecting with Quran can resolve so many of our problems today.
May Allah be our Guide and Guardian.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Media's share of corruption



All of us are either corrupt or support corruption in one way or the other. But the worst of the lot are media people who are apparently waging constant war against corruption. The other day, someone broke the news mocking governance in Sindh by saying, ‘what will be the fate of a province where Director Anticorruption is arrested for corruption.’ Such is the role of media i.e. director anticorruption in the country. Only difference is that this director is badly exposed but not put behind bars. They tell blatant lies in your face. They pop up daily on your TV screens and never fail to lie. In recent past, media empires have been raised by getting a fair share out of ongoing corruption in the country. Mostly, they get paid for maintaining silence and on other occasions for exposing the enemies of their masters.

Look at the scams surfacing in Sindh. Everyday dawns with disturbing accounts of corruption. For years, corruption reigned supreme in Sindh. Today, every media channel is throwing headline tickers on corruption stories but I have a simple question to them, where was their investigative journalism for the last so many years? Why did they not unearth this stuff? Was it not their responsibility as well? They have done well exposing poor butcher who sells meat of donkey or a baker with unhygienic cooking practices. But a lot more was expected from them. They are minting heaps of money. Coffers of Media seths are overflowing with bullion but nothing substantive was made public against the big fish. They were part of this corrupt curry being cooked in this country for years just like director anticorruption of Sindh.

Lets give a little break to usual suspects like Najam Sethi, Hamid Mir, Mehr, Kashif etc and look at some of the stalwarts of media.

Most popular voice against corruption is Hassan Nisar, whose employer is Mir Khalil ur Rehman. While hiring, you must have signed up a piece of paper as terms of service. This paper ensures that employer has a say in what you will say on air. Mr Hassan Nisar do you not smell corruption odor coming out of the currency notes you get from Geo TV. Abusing others from the corrupt forum of a media owner is the essence of Hassan Nisar’s heroics. He is selling what sells in numbers. He is saying rather shouting what we want to hear. Like every other columnist in the country he is also making money. It is not a cynical view but it just hurts to think, even those who present themselves as Messiahs to this poor nation are part of the problem not the solution.

Today Ayaz Amir considered to be icon of intelligentsia in this country writes against the govt because he was kicked out of PML(N) before last elections. He does maintain a sense of false dignity about his work but his indignation for exodus from ruling elite is evident if carefully read between the lines. Not long ago, same person used to defend this party and its leadership on media. What happened to his serene level of intellect then. Nothing just that PML(N) stopped serving his purpose. Now he adroitly writes and speaks against the govt .It all comes down to personal interests.

Most of the leading columnists are on the pay roll of political parties. Not a single honest, unbiased media man of integrity is available in journalist community. Everyone speaks the agenda he is paid for. The older the journalist the more shrewd he gets in his craft. Look at Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami. He is spokesperson of PML(N). What else you people want from life. You already have a successful career. Made enough money for generations to come. For making a place in this society and among journalist fraternity, there ought to be some journalistic responsibility upon these alligators but they continue to thrive. You will be surprised to find out the lifestyles of Kamran Shafi, Mubashar Luqman and other hitmen of media.

Idea of this entry is not to target a particular individual. This was just a preview of leading journalists whom people expect to be truthful to this country and nation. But no one is. Very unfortunate. Very sad.

What we can do under these circumstances is to stay alert to media shenanigans. Look at things critically. Do not get carried away by a particular column, program or talk show. Look at things in totality. Bigger picture is bleak but they should not continue to make fool out of us. Their sponsors including politicians and foreign donors should not get the worth of their money as long as we are aware that they are kith and kin of media. We must not buy rotten product media is trying to sell every day of the week. We need to really wake up and smell the coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Timing for recitation of Al Kahf on Juma


What is the appropriate timing for recitation of Surah Al Kahf on Friday, whether Thursday night (Shab-e-Juma because Islamic lunar day starts at sunset) or sometime during Friday. Like every other thing we resort to Sunnah for application of method. If there is some variation found in Sahih Ahadith as is the case with recitation timings of Surah Al Kahf, then we can exercise ‘common sense’ which is called Ijtihad. Most people will be content to go to Maulvi Sahab for guidance which has one advantage and some grave disadvantages. The advantage is that on Judgment Day, the burden of our wrong method will be on Maulvi sahab’s neck. List of disadvantages is seriously long and gruesome.

If Maulvi’s neck will be on the line, you will also be held accountable for not researching on the issue. Besides, Maulvis these days are paid professionals who invest 8 odd years in a Madrassa to finally get a job. Those will lesser qualifications end up as Imam Masjid with little stipend and food offered by local community as part of the package. Some with additional qualifications may make earnings by registering Nikah, Jinaza, Khatm-e-Quran, Taraveeh, teaching nazrah (Arabic reading of Quran) to kids and other sidekicks from their profession. Everyone knows how hard it is to make a living these days. Those running Madrassas are power brokers. They have their own hegemonic issues. Each fighting the other for gaining religious, financial and political space. Everyone has a sect, whereas Nabi (PBUH) was a Muslim.

However, amid this extremely chaotic situation, we should try and establish in the light of available Ahadith, when to recite Al Kahf?

  • From Abu Sa’eed al-Khdri, who said: “Whoever reads Surah Al Kahf on the night of Juma, will have a light that will stretch between him and the Ancient House (the Ka’bah).” 
(Narrated by al-Daarimi, 3407. This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in 
Saheeh al-Jaami, 6471) 

  • “Whoever reads Sura Al Kahf on the day of Juma, will have a light that will shine from him from one Friday to the next.”
(Narrated by al-Haakim, 2/399; al-Bayhaqi, 3/249. See: Fayd al-Qadeer, 6/198. It was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6470) 

  • It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: ‘Whoever reads Surah Al Kahf on the day of Juma, a light will shine for him from beneath his feet to the clouds of the sky, which will shine for him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will be forgiven (his sins) between the two Fridays.”

It is possible that all these Ahadith are narrated on different occasions or one Hadith cited by three different persons with variation in understanding of the content. However, one simple fact comes to fore that Surah Al Kahf is to be recited on Juma which extends from Thursday evening after sunset to before sunset on Friday. This is also means that during this period, recitation of Al Kahf is considered Afzal (more fruitful) and there is no restriction on its recitation on any other day of the week.

Only Allah knows the whole truth.
Have a blessed Juma and blessed Ramazan

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Four strories, four temptations, four trials


We must remember that the Qur’an does not just narrate stories in quite a random manner; they rather form an integral structure and serve a specific meaning. For example, while narrating the story of Prophet Musa (AS) in Al Kahf, there is no mention of the Pharaoh or the miracle of the stick because the meaning intended in this case is different from that found in either of those stories. What is then the thread which ties the four stories of Al Kahf together?

The four basic trials and temptations in life are faith, wealth, knowledge and power. Good and bad use of each will have ramifications. All these trials are narrated in the same sequence in four amazing stories of Al Kahf. The connection is mindboggling. The thread that ties the four stories together in Surah Al-Kahf can only be a divine arrangement. Half-way in the Surah, between the first two stories and the two remaining, we are told that the stimulus of temptation is the enemy of Allah Karim, namely, Iblis (Satan). Allah Karim says what can be translated as, “Will you then take him (Iblîs) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the Zâlimûn (polytheists, and wrong-doers) (18:50). Who, in their right mind, would take Allah’s enemy as their master and defender?

We briefly touch upon major trials and temptations in human life discussed in stories of Al Kahf:

The trial of religion: Faith in oneness of Allah is the foundation stone of religion. Every step of the way our faith is tested. Every transaction we make has to fit the criterion of religion. In story of men of cave, it was about people’s evil acts towards young believers in the form of harm, torture or threats which may cause loss of faith, deviation from religion or fear. This was the trial the people of the cave experienced and passed.

The trial of wealth: This was the trial of the man with the two gardens, who was so proud of his wealth that he considered the hereafter not to be true. Allah Karim says what can be translated as, “And I think not the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back to my Lord, (on the Day of Resurrection), I surely shall find better than this when I return to Him (18:36). Wealth is a serious distractor, hence a serious test. People develop this false sense of wellbeing that if they got the best of this world, they will definitely get the best of the next. It does not happen like that. The man of two gardens was apparently a Muslim, who had been blessed with wealth and sons, but he failed the trial and paid the price.

The trial of knowledge: The case of a man who boasts of the knowledge he possesses to the extent that he feels arrogant and hence forgets about modesty. Such a man may learn things of no benefit to him or to his community. Or else he may misuse the knowledge he was granted in a way that may harm him or the society in which he lives. The trial of knowledge is illustrated in the story of Prophet Musa (AS) and Al-Khidr. Prophet Musa (AS) thought that no one on earth was more knowledgeable than him. However, once he realized that this was untrue, he traveled a long distance to meet the more knowing man and to learn from him in a truly respectful and modest relation of a pupil to his teacher. Allah Karim says what can be translated as, “Musa said to him (Khidr): “May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)? (18:66). In order to leave us with a strong message, Allah failed his revered Prophet like Musa AS in this test.

The trial of power: Al Zulqarnain is presented as a just king who attributed his wealth and power to Allah Karim alone. Allah Karim says what can be translated as, “He said: “As for him (a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) who does wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with a terrible torment (Hell). “But as for him who believes (in Allah’s Oneness) and works righteousness, he shall have the best reward, (Paradise), and we (Al Zulqarnain) shall speak unto him mild words (as instructions) (18:87-88). It shows any amount of power in this world is not a right but a responsibility which makes it a trial. Al Zulqarnain passed this test.

Protection from temptations

The main idea of the Surah is protection from temptation. In this respect, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Between the creation of Adam and the Day of Judgment, there exists no greater trial than that of Al-Dajjal.” A question is then to be raised: What is the connection between the trial of Al-Dajjal and the four aforementioned trials and temptations?

Al-Dajjal will appear before the Day of Judgment and present the four temptations. He will try to push people to abandon their faith and will ask them to worship him and not Allah. Allah Karim will give him the ability to perform miracles: Al-Dajjal then may promise to bring to life one’s mother and father if one rejects Allah and believes in him instead. Everybody will be tempted except those blessed by Allah Karim. Al-Dajjal will lure humanity with temptation of wealth: he will simply command the sky to rain down on a particular piece of land and vegetation will flourish. He will be able to transform a barren desert land into a beautiful green garden. He will try you with temptation of knowledge: he will captivate people with what he knew which will tempt some of them to believe in him. Finally, he will exploit the temptation of power: he will subjugate people to his strength and authority in many parts of the earth except Makkah and Al-Madinah. These are serious temptations that all Muslims, in all parts of the land and throughout all of time, must beware of. Reading surat Al-Kahf and understanding the meanings within it, especially the four stories and the divine messages they carry can do this.

The four stories in the Surah are linked together through the string of trials. Each story is followed by comments which point out the lessons to be learned from it and how we can protect ourselves from trials and temptations. This is the magnificence of the Qur’an; it does not tell stories for their own sake but to leave a meaningful message. Hence, thrust of this Surah is seeking protection against all major temptations. Dajjal or no Dajjal, temptations remain a permanent feature of our lives and passing these trials is the essence of life.

May Allah protect us against temptations and carry us through the trials as He pleases.

Blessed Juma and Blessed Ramazan