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Why the Masses are Like Sheep… Benazir, Musharraf and Pakistan’s Corrupt Politics




benazir-corruption.jpg*Update: See results from this comprehensive poll on Pakistan politics. Nawaz leads the pack interestingly. Courtesy “Procrastination” blog.*

Compare Pakistani masses to American masses.

In 2004, the majority of American masses re-elected a President whose vocabulary is limited to about 50 choice words, you’ll. A President who has consistently made bad decisions for this country, starting with wars costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent souls.

In 2007, a large chunk (not the majority thankfully) of Pakistanis still believes in the corrupt, sell-out figure of Benazir Bhutto. But, I find the Pakistani situation more repulsive and sadder for several reasons:

  1. Pakistan was apparently established as a “Muslim” country. Ok, I am not being greedy in asking for an Islamic scholar as the leader of the nation, but at least give me a practicing Muslim? I mean Benazir doesn’t even represent the majority Sunni sect of Pakistan. Though I think that matters little because the Sunni Prez dictator currently in power isn’t doing much better either. Besides the dupatta facade on her head, has Benazir shown any signs that she even practices an iota of Islam?
  2. OK, so she isn’t a practicing Muslim. She must be a good secular leader, right? WRONG. Benazir’s corruption and swindling of the country in her past prime-ministership is of historic proportions. In fact, Benazir’s feudal-lord husband, Zardari, was notoriously known as Mr. 10%. Every investment in Pakistan had a tax of 10% that went to Zardari! Here are some more documented examples:
    1. A Treatise on Benazir’s Stolen Opulence
    2. Swiss Magistrate has enough evidence to indict Bhutto & here
    3. Benazir’s £4m Surrey mansion
    4. Bribes to Benazir’s husband
    5. Benazir Bhutto and tales of Corruption
  3. So, why do so many people still support Benazir? The masses are like sheep. When the going gets as bad as it is now with Musharraf, the grass always starts looking greener on the other side. Though in this case the grass is probably deader on the Benazir side.
  4. What about the suicide attack? What happened in Pakistan with the suicide bomb attack on Benazir’s caravan is extremely sad and unfortunate and must be condemned unequivocally. May Allah forgive the innocent souls and grant them paradise. And may Allah give comfort and patience to their families. Yet, the bomber is another example of the masses being like the sheep. In the case of the suicide bombers, many uneducated, poor or brainwashed individuals become like the sheep for the wolf of terrorism who guides them one by one to their self-murder and the murder of other innocents. Interestingly, the masterminds always survive… a clear sign of hypocricy, cowardice and deceit.
  5. BUT there is enough blame to go around. Bhutto was asked by the butcher-dictator himself, Busharraf, to take the helicopter ride to her home. But Bhutto placed politics and her ambitions to once again swindle Pakistan OVER the lives of innocent Pakistanis. How? While Bhutto herself was safely stationed in an armored vehicle probably capable of surviving a nucleur attack (!), the people on the street weren’t. Didn’t she know that an attack would kill bystanders and that it wasn’t about HER but about the people who weren’t in armored vehicles? Of course she knew. But why should she care… after all, isn’t this the same woman who hasn’t cared about the people before, gladly using and allowing her husband to use Pakistani resources for her own self-enrichment
  6. Of coures, Mushurraf now needs Bhutto for his own God-forsaken survival as President. He needs her because enough of the sheep who were previously blinded by his “enlightened moderation” were swayed finally to see some light by the open killings of Muslims in the Red Mosque. So, all of a sudden, without any due process and without any trials, all of Bhutto’s corruption cases were “dropped”. You say what? Yes, all of the corruption charges are actively being persued to be dropped by Musharraf. How low can you go? I mean, is this like a board-game where you can forgive whoever you want to and punish whoever you want? How shameful for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Though there is still some hope that Benazir will face the music for her past crimes because the Supreme Court still has some juice left in it.

So, as I said the masses are like sheep. There is the usual “herd mentality“. People get excited and pulled into the support of people and circumstances that they otherwise would not have, if they thought for themselves. How Benazir could become the leader again of Pakistan is quite simply unbelievable. How people can so easily forget is unforgiveable. How dictators can do anything to keep themselves in power is an oft-repeated historical factoid.

As I was saying, how the masses are like sheep is unavoidable. The question then really is: where are the honorable and upright shepherds?

Amad Shaikh is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Amad is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").



  1. Avatar


    October 20, 2007 at 9:52 PM

    I will ask though: what is the alternative? Personally, I would take Nawaz … at least he has some “Muslim” in him… but he too seems to have a bag full of corruption charges.

    Pakistan almost needs to start over… fresh blood. Imran Khan anyone? :)

  2. Avatar


    October 20, 2007 at 10:07 PM

    Point number 5 was on my mind today… she was warned of a terrorist attack, yet she entered Pakistan like a sports team returning victorious from the cup final (not like the England Rugby team, unfortunately) – huge bus with her face plastered on the side – why not draw a bullseye while you’re at it? Total disregard for the safety of her supporters. Just plain selfish and reckless – is that an indicator of her future policies?

    The Pakistani government is becoming a big joke, a’authobillah. And what’s even more funny/ironic/pathetic: it has the fully backing of the disciples of “democracy”, the UK & US governments! {repeatedly bangs head on table}

  3. Avatar


    October 20, 2007 at 10:47 PM

    Compare the situation to India. Minus Kashmir, India is 10 years+ ahead of Pakistan with a system that WORKS! Same ethnic people, similar start, yet such different stages the two find themselves in. What a difference good governance makes!

    I cannot think of one effective good leader that Pakistan has had since its founder. Not that there is a dearth of good leaders in Pakistan, rather it is the feudal and corrupt political system that has kept them out.

    AND also the lack of education— keep people uneducated and they’ll continue to be like sheep!

  4. Avatar


    October 20, 2007 at 11:29 PM

    What’s sad is PPP told so many who wanted a “ticket” to join to bring as many people in buses as they can to the gathering. Apparently, it was just those people that suffered from the bombing, while Bhutto and company were supposedly aware of the bomb threats. :(

  5. Avatar


    October 20, 2007 at 11:55 PM

    assalamu alikum

    Allah knows best, but to me this was all drama and set up and most everyone I’ve talked in Pakistan think the same. It helps nobody but BB and Mush. If you really want to kill a politician in Pakistan, due to many number of sellouts and lack of real security, you usually successed, i.e. Liaqat Ali Khan, Ziaul Haq and many lesser known ones.

    The reason India is “ahead” is because it chose a system (secularism) and went with it—and I think it’s more than 10+ years ahead. On the other hand, Pakistan is fighting between having a theology (even if a semi-theology) and a secular country. Plus, “external” forces are always on the move to destabalize this country unlike India. This is not to say that the blame doesn’t lie with the Pakistanis who have allowed themselves to get manipulated. The thing is more than any other Muslim country (except maybe SA) Pakistan’s government has to a certain degree accepted Islam in its governance (although by force; mostly notably during Ziaul Haq’s time). Of course, many people never liked that and hence the termoil is created.

    And, this tension has been from the word go. Jinnah spoke through both sides of his mouth. When talking to elite (at some social club like Karachi gymkhana or something) he talked like a secularist. But, when talking to common folks and the masses, it was all about Islam this and Islam that although in his heart he was a secularist.

    So, you can see the elite who has always ruled Pakistan has never been in touch with the masses except in Zia’s time to a certain degree. And, this is mostly because nobody has listened to their wishes.

    The elite seems to get some sort of support from the masses but it’s an illusion. The “masses” consist of poor people (and Pakistan has one of the highest illetracy rate among Muslim countries). Just lure them with the words “housing schemes, free land for cultivation…i.e. Makan (home), roti (food), kapra (clothing)). Exception to this is probably MQM (an ethnic party based out of Karachi made mostly of middle class), but its leadership was staunchly secular (which they hid or was not noticed initially due to ethnic slogans) while its mass was not so much.

    Almost every single supporter of BB who died two days ago was a poor person…literally farmers from the villages or those who moved to cities from the interior. In the streets of Karachi, the rate is being said to be Rs. 500…meaning, these people were given Rs.500 for coming out. Even my friends told me that a private channel correspondent asked a supporter why he was there and he didn’t have a clue that BB was coming. Yes, most people knew BB was coming but this goes to show what was the real motivation. Another of my friend asked: Which shareef (read educated/sensible/normal middle class…shareef is just the way of saying this) people are dancing or milling about on the streets of Karachi at 1:00 am (the time of the blast).

    May Allah forgive those who died, have mercy on them, enter them in Jannah and give patience to their families. And, give BB and the rest of politicans what they deserve.

    Lastly, I hope those who’ve lived most of their lives outside Pakistan would make mature statements about the situation/country because, with all due respect, they have little clue and sitting in the West and being more wordly is no gurantee of knowing the complexities and realities. I myself am careful because I’m not currently living there so can’t directly experience what the realities.

  6. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 12:58 AM

    as salaam alaikum

    subhanAllah really sad :(

    yeah, I think i’d take Imran Khan! Junaid Jamshed would be cool too. :)

  7. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 2:58 AM

    I was wondering that myself Br Amad. What about Imran Khan? I don’t know much about him but from what little I have heard him say or what I’ve heard about him, it seems to be better than all these three other clowns combined.

    Aside from this, right now, whats going on in Pakistan is OBVIOUSLY being dictated from certain International Players.

    I mean the whole Red Mosque fiasco was a performance as everyone knows to SHOW and DEMONSTRATE that ‘oh look we’re going after the ‘terrorists’. Yes these people had strange ideas, but they werent terrorizing anyone in the country.

    The whole battle the government is raging against the Taliban or the tribes on the frontier is another theatrical performance being put on. These people aren’t doing anything to Pakistan or terorrizing people. But the government is being dictated to do this. I’m not saying Pakistan can’t be tough like it got in Nawaz Sharif’s time and say ‘take back your aid, but stop telling us what to do’, but this is whats happening from my understanding.

  8. Avatar

    Islam Blog

    October 21, 2007 at 11:25 AM

    “No people who appoint a woman as their leader will ever prosper.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 13/53).

    Words of wisdom said centuries ago being lived out today in Pakistan.

    Not that Pakistan has fared any better under its male rulers. But this sort of does away with the so called ‘Islamic nation of Pakistan’ label.

  9. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 12:51 PM

    Imran Khan = Nader of Pakistan…everyone knows he would be the best…but alas it can never be…

  10. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 1:00 PM

    That front page is pretty sexist. I mean granted shes corrupt but shes still a poltican and a woman of authority, but having a rather lush airbrushed pic of her and refering to her ‘booty’ is degoratary imo. I wonder if newsweek would have refered to angela merkal or hilary clinton or another high positioned female politican in such a fashion.

    anyhow, the number of dead people after the bombings is something like 130+. Sad state of affairs. May the dead rest in peace.

  11. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 1:08 PM

    “Besides the dupatta facade on her head, has Benazir shown any signs that she even practices an iota of Islam?”

    actually she was seen after landing in pakistan making dua with her hands up..that should count as a religious practice.

  12. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 1:13 PM

    thank you talib … we have 2 practices now :)

    That was a cover pic in the Sunday Times… the booty of course refers not to her body part but the money she swindled from Pakistan’s people. I dont think Merkal or Clinton has done 1% of the country-robbery that Benazir’s clan has been involved in, so in some what it isn’t about her being a woman, its about her being a criminal.

    I get the pun though… if people find it offensive, I have no problem taking it down.

  13. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 1:17 PM

    I am a bit biased to Imran… as a kid I grew up idolizing him (yes, yes, I know that sportsmen idolization is not a healthy Muslim thing)… but he did change his bad habits… starting praying 5 times and actually seems to have the country’s interest at heart (based on his outward actions).

    I would take Imran Khan ANYDAY and that would be the change that Pakistan needs and would greatly benefit from. As “coolguy” said, usually the best people don’t have the political shrewdness to make it all the way to the top. And that is one of the biggest flaws of the “democratic” system, where the SHEEP are allowed to choose their leader. Instead of letting a shoora system with a group of the country’s top intellectuals, scientists, scholars, etc. deciding the country’s future.

    That’s a different topic for a different day.

  14. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 3:46 PM

    About BB makign duaa: Don’t forget the praying beeds on her hand, which has been there since the first time she was thrown out of the govt.

    How does one know he prays five times a day or other things? On the face of it, he is a secularist as they all are. He might have left his bad habits but he hasn’t demonstrated the other side after that. It’s a tragedy that he is the best option available (I don’t think he is the best option left)!

    People who want to support Imran, I have two words fo you: Sita White.

  15. AnonyMouse


    October 21, 2007 at 4:06 PM

    I must admit total igorance of Pakistani history and current affairs (aside from some very basic facts) :S

    It is truly sad what’s happening in both Pakistan and other Muslim countries around the world… I think the question on everybody’s mind is, “What can we do?!”
    The politics is so dirty and corrupt that it would be a struggle to even get “up there” in terms of becoming someone with real influence, and once someone *did* achieve that position, they’d probably end up no better than those currently in power :(

  16. Avatar

    Ali M.

    October 21, 2007 at 4:18 PM

    it’s all in the disease of the heart and the desire for material possessions.

    maybe we can try mandating 3 years of tasawwuf as a prerequisite for becoming primeminister and 5 years of it for president.

    very unlikely…but quite needed.

    After all, the caliphate involved some leaders who dint even want to be leaders out of modesty, who would sleep on the sand, eat bread dipped in water and recite the entire Quran in one rakah. And their accomplishments are still felt today.

    i know my suggestion is very simplistic, but indeed it was the simplicity of the earliest muslim generations that raised their rank not only in the aakhira but the dunya aswell.

    May Allah swt protect us from the evil within us and the evil outside us. Ameen

  17. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 9:24 PM

    Ibrahim, Imran’s “born-again” Muslim is a well-known fact. He used to be involved in all sorts of major sins before that, and that is also well-known, including Sita White. But, we have to take a man’s word in these matters. He has not been seen publicly to be engaged in any of the fawahish as he was before, and his writings also tell of this story.

    Again, let’s talk in RELATIVE terms. What is the alternative??

    You can listen here when he talks about Islam in his life:

    David Rao: As a practising Muslim do you find a conflict meeting the demands of showbusiness and your obligations to Islam?

    Imran Khan: I have never found any conflict because there is none. Part of Islam is a constant reformation of character. You ask God five times a day to show you the right path. That’s a dynamic concept. The external part of Islam is being a good human being. Politically, we want a welfare state which looks after human beings. A state where the leader leads by example. When the leader wants people to make sacrifices – and Pakistan needs sacrifices because right now it’s bankrupt – he starts from himself. He doesn’t live the life of a Mughal emperor. Unfortunately we complicate Islam with so many sects. We need to get back to the pure Islam where you have a holy book – the Koran – and the way of the Prophet to guide you.

    An article by Imran here:

    Here are some select quotes from an interview with Islamica magazine (unfortunately the interviewer tried to inject some sectarianism, which Imran for the most part kept away from):

    We have been so defensive about Islam, like this current government of General Musharraf ’s, under the slogan of “enlightened moderation.” It is basically a term to appease the American government
    I stand for an overall reform of education. So why have they just taken the madrasas?

    The Rightly-Guided Caliphs in the state of Medina established complete justice.

    Basically what we have is a westernized elite which, on the whole, has no idea about Islam, and they look upon Islam through western lenses. Their Islam is like General Musharraf ’s Islam. It is not original. It is how the West perceives Islam.

    The problem is that we have a parasitical ruling elite.

    Whatever it asks of Iran why does it not ask of Israel? The U.S. has asked Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and yet … there is Israel occupying so many territories of Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon. Why is a U.N. resolution not effective when Israel is concerned?

  18. Avatar


    October 21, 2007 at 10:30 PM

    I understand you are talking in relative terms. I believe that once a person repents, you must treat him as if he has done nothing wrong…regardless of Allah actually forgave him or not becaus only Allah knows, as scholars have said. But, you know, he has always evaded the question of Sita White and his daughter (on talk shows) in the face of very damaging evidence. And, I never read any direct repentence from him. Still, I’m not sure he needs to publicly repent or not.

    I admit I had never read what you have quoted, and this is something that will force me to look into this matter. Come to think of, he divorced his wife too, which points to him not being compatible with her anymore.

    However, he needs to say and SHOW a lot more than this to convince me, and I think I talk on behalf of many, if not a majority. Also, what you quoted is all in terms of politics and governance.

    As a side note, there are two “logistics” problems with him getting to the top. This issue of having a daughter with Sita White will be brought up every single time by the very people who themselves could be involved in zina! And, in a country like Pakistan that would be a killer. There is so much dirt that can be brough him on him if he ever becomes a serious contender. Second, and this is a big reality: He is very much disliked in Karachi, by which you alienate a big chuck of your middle class society (religious or otherwise). And, this removes a good chuck of people he wants to attract.

    Still, this is all talk and not much will come out of it. The elections are already rigged and decided. So, there is no chance he is becoming a PM. It will be a surprise if his Tahreek-e-insaaf party wins more than one (his) seat.

  19. Avatar


    October 22, 2007 at 12:00 AM

    A minor correction to your observation. The whole idea that this was a suicide attack is balogne. Check out what Dr. Shahid Masood -a superb journalist — is saying about this whole ordeal. They’ve got his videos on

  20. Avatar


    October 22, 2007 at 1:13 AM

    The Holy Prophet-peace of ALlah on him-once said that one who resites Kalima is Muslin so it is a lame excuse to say one is sunni and shia.Are sunnis capable of doing what a shia Iran is doing or what the father of Benazir did for Pakistan in the form of Atomic Bomb.we all r Muslims an belong to the tribe of Aqaji so we should concentrate on saving our tribe ratherresiting the formuula of other to kill or hate ourselves.When we r disgraced we call shia to take we sunnis out as we did in 1071 by calling Bhutto after a shameful end in war.When smyngton/pressler amendment was killing us we called a shia a now when again the forces against us r pouring from all side,we r calling her.WHy?Please get out of the old discussion of sunni and shia.If we dont we all will be wiped out.I hope i have not hurt anybody.It is the Kalima Tayyaba which binds us nothing wlse

  21. Avatar


    October 22, 2007 at 9:09 AM

    Her return to Pakistan has been orchestrated by the US and Britain to save Musharraf. They have arranged the unholy political marriage between the woman who presided over the most corrupt regime in Pakistan’s history and the man who has the greatest record of betrayal in its history

  22. Avatar

    Umm Reem

    October 22, 2007 at 10:55 AM

    Don’t forget, she has performed Umrah/s as well! :)

  23. Avatar


    October 22, 2007 at 11:41 AM

    amad: i didnt really read the article or anything so i wasnt really aware of what context they were referring in. anyhow, no need to take it down.

  24. Avatar


    October 22, 2007 at 1:10 PM

    Thanks umm reem…there you go amad, we have a total of 3 islamic practices. Seriously though i think there was a political agenda to this blatant attack in the middle of a crowded street.

  25. Avatar

    Sis Shaykha

    October 22, 2007 at 2:35 PM

    Asalaamu Alaaikum,

    Yes, fingers of blame should be pointed both ways.

    Sad is the condition of the ummah, May Allah forgive us and guide us, ameen

    I was really saddened to see all those poor people die, i mean i just can’t defend that. Most of them are ignorant of politics, and are only there for *hope* that she will be better to them even though she *will not be*. They are just miskeen, most of her party went unharmed, of course she doesn’t have a cut or bruise on her. May Allah forgive them (dead) for their sins, and May Allah enter them into jannah, ameeen
    May Allah also forgive the person who did this, ameeen



    P.S. Here is another religious sign: she prayed at her father’s tomb/grave…wait a sec you’re not supposed to do that!!!

    Plus every other act of shirk in Pakistan, and other lands. We MUST do some “clean-up”in our countries insha’Allah. Quran and Sunnah will be our tools….

  26. Avatar


    October 22, 2007 at 2:40 PM

    P.S. Here is another religious sign: she prayed at her father’s tomb/grave…wait a sec you’re not supposed to do that!!!

    how can we forget that Musharraf travelled to India to pray at the tomb at Ajmer shareef in April 2005. I guess that trip didn’t help him too much! As Imran Khan said, its all “political Islam”… I don’t think they care about what is Islam or not as long as it is popular!

  27. Avatar


    October 23, 2007 at 8:07 AM

    Check out the poll on Pakistani politics… finally some data! I added it at the top of the post.

    As expected, our favorite politician Imran Khan, just doesn’t have the numbers and the support.

    But interestingly, Benazir is trailing Nawaz now. And thankfully the Pakistani population, even the sheep, are starting to recognize Musharraf’s moral bankruptcy and his popularity has dived faster than even Bush’s!

  28. Avatar


    October 24, 2007 at 7:34 AM

    It’s not much of a choice really, the main options for the Pakistani people seem to be corrupt and power hungry to the extreme. I’m guessing that whichever one of them wins is the one that most successfully rigged the election. It’s like they say about power – the people who most want it are the people less suited to have it.

    I don’t get why all the front runners are dredged up from the past, either – is it impossible for someone new to gain popularity? Maybe the Pakistani people are thinking along the lines of ‘better the devil you know’.

  29. Pingback: » Pakistan’s Puppet Dictator Declares State of Emergency (Musharraf Won’t Let Go)

  30. Avatar


    November 5, 2007 at 4:46 AM

    What the so called pious sunni and other sects have done that benazir is doing more bad?Please forget this discussion.She is daughter of Bhuttoo who was gallowed for Atomic bomb project!Please try to understand the enemies r not fater sunni and shia or whatever,they r after every one who has a Muslim name so leave these absurdities and learn to save yrself.

  31. Pingback: » Updates (12/28): Benazir Bhutto Killed in Terrorist Attack

  32. Pingback: » The “Official Narrative” Has Been Laid Down for us- On the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza



On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.


Continue Reading


Are You Prepared for Marriage and Building a Family?

Mona Islam



High School is that time which is ideal for preparing yourself for the rest of your life. There is so much excitement and opportunity. Youth is a time of energy, growth, health, beauty, and adventure. Along with the thrill of being one of the best times of life, there is a definite lack of life experience. In your youth, you end up depending on your own judgments as well as the advice of others who are further along the path. Your own judgments usually come from your own knowledge, assumptions, likes, and dislikes. No matter how wise, mature, or well-intended a youth is compared to his or her peers, the inherent lack of life experience can also mislead that person to go down a path which is not serving them or their loved ones best. A youth may walk into mistakes without knowing, or get themselves into trouble resulting from naivety.

Salma and Yousef: 

Salma and Yousef had grown up in the same community for many years. They had gone to the same masjid and attended youth group together during high school. After going off to college for a few years, both were back in town and found that they would make good prospects for marriage for each other. Yousef was moving along his career path, and Salma looked forward to her new relationship. Yousef was happy to settle down. The first few months after marriage were hectic: getting a new place, organizing, managing new jobs and extended family. After a few months, they began to wonder when things would settle down and be like the vision they had about married life.

Later with valuable life experience, we come to realize that the ideas we had in our youth about marriage and family are far from what are they are in reality. The things that we thought mattered in high school, may not matter as much, and the things that we took for granted really matter a lot more than we realized. In retrospect, we learn that marriage is not simply a door that we walk through which changes our life, but something that each young Muslim and Muslima should be preparing for individually through observation, introspection, and reflection. In order to prepare for marriage, each person must intend to want to be the best person he or she can be in that role. There is a conscious process that they must put themselves through.

This conscious process should begin in youth. Waiting until marriage to start this process is all too late. We must really start preparing for marriage as a conscious part of our growth, self-development, and character building from a young age. The more prepared we are internally, the better off we will be in the process of marriage. The best analogy would be the stronger the structure and foundation of a building, the better that building will be able to serve its purpose and withstand the environment. Another way to think of this process is like planting a seed. We plant a seed long before the harvest, but the more time, care, and attention, the more beautiful and beneficial the fruits will be.


Sarah and Hasan:

Hasan grew up on the East Coast. He had gone to boarding school all through high school, especially since his parents had died in an unfortunate accident. His next of kin was his aunt and uncle, who managed his finances, and cared for him when school was not in session. Hasan was safe and comfortable with his aunt and uncle, but he always felt there was something missing in his life. During his college years, Hasan was introduced to Sarah and eventually they decided to get married.

The first week of his new job, Hasan caught a really bad case of the flu that made it hard for him to get his projects done. Groggy in bed, he sees Sarah appear with a tray of soup and medicine every day until he felt better. Nobody had ever done that for him before. He remembered the “mawaddah and rahmah” that the Quran spoke of.

Knowledge, Skills, and Understanding:

The process of growing into that person who is ready to start a family is that we need to first to be aware of ourselves and be aware of others around us. We have to have knowledge of ourselves and our environment. With time, reflection and life experience, that knowledge activates into understanding and wisdom. This activity the ability to make choices between right and wrong, and predict how our actions will affect others related to us.


This series is made up of several parts which make up a unit about preparation for family life. Some of the topics covered include:

  • The Family Unit In Islam
  • Characteristics of an Individual Needed for Family Life
  • The Nuclear Family
  • The Extended Family

Hamza and Tamika

Tamika and Hamza got married six months ago. Tamika was getting her teacher certification in night school and started her first daytime teaching job at the local elementary school. She was shocked at the amount of energy it took to manage second graders. She thought teaching was about writing on a board and reading books to kids, but found out it had a lot more to do with discipline, speaking loudly, and chasing them around. This week she had state testing for the students and her finals at night school. She was not sure how to balance all this with her new home duties. One day feeling despair, she walked in her kitchen and found a surprise. Hamza had prepared a beautiful delicious dinner for them that would last a few days, and the home looked extra clean too. Tamika was pleasantly surprised and remembered the example of our Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

The Family Unit in Islam

We always have to start with the beginning. We have to ask, “What is the family unit in Islam?” To answer this we take a step further back, asking, “What is the world-wide definition of family? Is it the same for all people? Of course not. “Family” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people across the world. As Muslims, what family means to us, is affected by culture and values, as well as our own understanding of Islam.

The world-wide definition of family is a group of people who are related to each other through blood or marriage. Beyond this point, is where there are many differences in views. Some people vary on how distantly related to consider a family. In some cultures, family is assumed to be only the nuclear family, consisting of mom dad and kids only. Other cultures assume family includes an extended family. Another large discrepancy lies in defining family roles and responsibilities. Various cultures promote different behavioral norms for different genders or roles in the family. For example, some cultures promote women staying at home in a life of luxury, while others esteem women joining the workforce while raising their kids on the side. Living styles vary too, where some cultures prefer individual family homes, while in other parts of the world extended families live together in large buildings always interacting with each other.


Layla and Ibrahim   

Layla and Ibrahim met at summer retreat where spirituality was the focus, and scholars were teaching them all day. Neither of them was seriously considering getting married, but one of the retreat teachers thought they might make a good match. It seemed like a fairytale, and the retreat gave them an extra spiritual high. Layla could not imagine anything going wrong. She was half Italian and half Egyptian, and Ibrahim came from a desi family. Soon after the nikah, Layla moved across the country into Ibrahim’s family home, where his parents, three siblings, and grandmother lived.  Come Ramadan, Layla’s mother-in-law, Ruqayya, was buying her new clothes to wear to the masjid. It was out of love, but Sarah had never worn a shalwar kameez in all her life! Ruqayya Aunty started getting upset when Layla was not as excited about the clothes as she was.

As Eid approached, Layla had just picked a cute dress from the department store that she was looking forward to wearing. Yet again, her mother-in-law had other plans for her.

Layla was getting upset inside. It was the night before Eid and the last thing she wanted to do was fight with her new husband. She did not want that stress, especially because they all lived together. At this point, Layla started looking through her Islamic lecture notes. She wanted to know, was this request from her mother-in-law a part of the culture, or was it part of the religion?


The basis of all families, undoubtedly, is the institution of marriage. In the Islamic model, the marriage consists of a husband and a wife. In broad terms, marriage is the commitment of two individuals towards each other and their children to live and work together to meet and support each other’s needs in the way that they see fit. What needs they meet vary as well, from person to person, and family to family. The marriage bond must sustain the weight of fulfilling first their own obligations toward each other. This is the priority. The marriage must also be strong enough to hold the responsibility of raising the kids, and then the extended family.

How are we as Muslims unique and what makes us different from other family models? We are responsible to Allah. The end goals are what makes us different, and the method in which we work. In other family systems, beliefs are different, goals are different, and the motives are different. Methods can especially be different. In the end, it is quite a different system. What makes us better? Not because we say we are better or because we automatically feel better about ourselves due to a misplaced feeling of superiority. But instead it is because we are adhering to the system put in place by the most perfect God, Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all the worlds, the One Who knows best what it is we need.

Family Roles:

Each person in the family has a role which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has meant for them to have, and which ethics and common sense tell us to follow. However, our nafs and ego can easily misguide us to live our family life in the wrong way, which is harmful and keeps us suffering. Suffering can take place in many ways. It can take place in the form of neglect or abuse. In the spectrum of right and wrong, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us that we are a nation meant for the middle path. So we should not go to any extreme in neglect or abuse.

What are the consequences of mishandling our family roles? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) calls this type of wrongdoing “transgression” or “oppression”. There are definitely consequences of oppression, abuse, and neglect. There are worldly consequences which we feel in this life, and there are long term consequences in the Akhirah.

Razan and Farhaan

Razan and Farhan had gotten married two years ago. Since they were from different towns, Razan would have to move to Farhaan’s hometown. On top of the change of married life, Razan felt pangs of homesickness and did not know many people in the new town. However, Farhaan did not realize what she was going through. He still had the same friends he grew up with for years. They had a die-hard routine to go to football games on Friday night and play basketball on Saturday at the rec center.

Razan was losing her patience. How could he think it was okay to go out with his friends twice on the weekend? Yet he expected her to keep the home together? Her blood started to boil. What does Islam say about this?

Mawaddah and Rahma

The starting point of a family is a healthy relationship between the husband and wife. Allah SWT prescribed in Surah 25: verse 74, that the marriage relationship is supposed to be built on Mawaddah (compassion) and Rahma (mercy). A loving family environment responds to both the needs of the children and the needs of parents. Good parenting prepares children to become responsible adults.

Aliyaah and Irwan

Aliyaah and Irwan had homeschooled their twin children, Jannah and Omar, for four years. They were cautious about where to admit their children for the next school year. Aliyaah felt that she wanted to homeschool her children for another few years. There were no Islamic Schools in their town. Irwan wanted to let his kids go to public schools. He felt that was nothing wrong with knowing how things in the real world are. However, every conversation they started about this issue ended up into a conflict or fight. This was beginning to affect their relationship.


Two significant roles that adults in a family play are that they are married and they are parents. It is important that parents work to preserve and protect their marital relationship since it is really the pillar which supports the parenting role. Parenting is a role which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) directly addresses in our religion. We will be asked very thoroughly about this most important role which we will all play in our lives.

There is a hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) reminds us,

“All of you are shepherds and responsible for your wards under you care. The imam is the shepherd of his subjects and is responsible for them, and a man is a shepherd of his family and is responsible for them. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and is responsible for it. A servant is the shepherd of his master’s belongings and is responsible for them. A man is the shepherd of his father’s property and is responsible for them”. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam has placed a lot of importance on the family unit. A family is the basic building block of Islam. A strong family can facilitate positive social change within itself and the society as a whole. The Quran asserts that human beings are entrusted by their Creator to be his trustees on Earth, thus they need to be trained and prepared for the task of trusteeship (isthiklaf).

Asa youth, it is important to make a concerted effort to develop our family skills so that we grow into that role smoothly. Proper development will prepare a person emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically for marriage and family life.

Mona Islam is a youth worker, community builder, motivational speaker, writer, and author. For the past 25 years, Sr. Mona has been on the forefront of her passion both locally and nationally, which is inculcating character development in youth (tarbiyah).  Sr. Mona has extensive knowledge of Islamic sciences through the privilege of studying under many scholars and traveling worldwide.  An educator by profession, she is a published author, completed her masters in Educational Admin and currently doing her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. Sr. Mona is married with five children and lives in Houston, TX.

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#Current Affairs

White Activism Is Crucial In The Wake of Right-Wing Terrorism

Laura El Alam



The vicious terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 were a punch to the gut for peace-loving people all over the world.  Only the most heartless of individuals could feel nonchalant about 70 innocent children, women, and men being killed or maimed mercilessly as they prayed. However, even a brief glimpse at comments on social media confirms that among the outpouring of sadness and shock, there are, indeed, numerous sick individuals who glory in Brenton Tarrant’s deliberately evil actions. White supremacy, in all its horrific manifestations, is clearly alive and well.  

In an enlightening article in The Washington Post, R. Joseph Parrott explains,  “Recently, global white supremacy has been making a comeback, attracting adherents by stoking a new unease with changing demographics, using an expanded rhetoric of deluge and cultivating nostalgia for a time when various white governments ruled the world (and local cities). At the fringes, longing for lost white regimes forged a new global iconography of supremacy.”

“Modern white supremacy is an international threat that knows no borders, being exported and globalized like never before,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “The hatred that led to violence in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville is finding new adherents around the world. Indeed, it appears that this attack was not just focused on New Zealand; it was intended to have a global impact.” (link)

Many people want to sweep this terrifying reality under the rug, among them the U.S. President.  Asked by a reporter if he saw an increase globally in the threat of white nationalism, Trump replied, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”

However, experts in his own country disagree.  A March 17 article in NBC News claims that, “The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned in a 2017 intelligence bulletin that white supremacist groups had carried out more attacks in the U.S. than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years. And officials believe they are likely to carry out more.”

Although they may be unaware of — or in denial about –the growing influence of white supremacist ideology, the vast majority of white people do not support violent acts of terrorism.  However, many of them are surprisingly, hurtfully silent when acts of terrorism are committed by non-Muslims, with Muslims as the victims.

When a shooter yells “Allahu akbar” before killing innocent people, public furor is obvious and palpable.  “Terror attacks by Muslims receive 375% more press attention,” states a headline in The Guardian, citing a study by the University of Alabama. The perpetrator is often portrayed as a “maniac” and a representative of an inherently violent faith. In the wake of an attack committed by a Muslim, everyone from politicians to religious leaders to news anchors calls on Muslim individuals and organizations to disavow terrorism.  However, when white men kill Muslims en masse, there is significantly less outrage.  People try to make sense of the shooters’ vile actions, looking into their past for trauma, mental illness, or addiction that will somehow explain why they did what they did.  Various news outlets humanized Brenton Tarrant with bold headlines that labeled him an “angelic boy who grew into an evil far-right mass killer,” an “ordinary white man,” “obsessed with video games,” and even “badly picked on as a child because he was chubby.”  Those descriptions, which evoke sympathy rather than revulsion, are reserved for white mass murderers.

The media’s spin on terrorist acts shapes public reaction.  Six days after the Christchurch attacks, millions were not currently taking to the streets to protest right-wing extremism.  World leaders are not linking arms in a dramatic march against white supremacist terrorism.  And no one is demanding that white men, in general, disavow terrorism.

But that would be unreasonable, right? To expect all white men to condemn the vile actions of an individual they don’t even know?  Unreasonable though it may be, such expectations are placed on Muslims all the time.

As a white woman, I am here to argue that white people — and most of all white-led institutions — are exactly the ones who need to speak up now, loudly and clearly condemning right-wing terrorism, disavowing white supremacy, and showing support of Muslims generally.  We need to do this even if we firmly believe we’re not part of the problem. We need to do this even if our first reaction is to feel defensive (“But I’m not a bigot!”), or if discussing race is uncomfortable to us. We need to do it even if we are Muslims who fully comprehend that our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,  “There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white — except by piety.”

While we might not hold hatred in our hearts individually, we do hold the power, institutionally.  If we truly care about people of color, peace, and justice, we must put our fragile egos aside and avoid “not me-ism.”  The fact is, if we have white skin, we have grown up in a world that favors us in innumerable ways, both big and small. Those of us with privilege, position, and authority are the very ones who have the greatest responsibility to make major changes to society. Sadly, sometimes it takes a white person to make other white people listen and change.

White religious leaders, politicians, and other people with influence and power need to speak up and condemn the New Zealand attacks publically and unequivocally, even if we do not consider ourselves remotely affiliated with right-wing extremists or murderous bigots.  Living our comfortable lives, refusing to discuss or challenge institutionalized racism, xenophobia, and rampant Islamophobia, and accepting the status quo are all a tacit approval of the toxic reality that we live in.  

Institutional power is the backbone of racism.  Throughout history, governments and religious institutions have enforced racist legislation, segregation, xenophobic policies, and the notion that white people are inherently superior to people of color.  These institutions continue to be controlled by white people, and if white leaders and white individuals truly believe in justice for all, we must do much more than “be a nice person.” We must use our influence to change the system and to challenge injustice.  

White ministers need to decry racial violence and anti-immigrant sentiment from their pulpits, making it abundantly clear that their religion does not advocate racism, xenophobia, or Islamophobia. They must condemn Brenton Tarrant’s abhorrent actions in clear terms, in case any member of their flock sees him as some sort of hero.  Politicians and other leaders need to humanize and defend Muslims while expressing zero tolerance for extremists who threaten the lives or peace of their fellow citizens — all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, immigration status, or ethnicity.  New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is an excellent role model for world leaders; she has handled her nation’s tragedy with beautiful compassion, wisdom, and crystal clear condemnation of the attacker and his motives.  Similarly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstrated superb leadership and a humane, loving response to the victims in Christchurch (and Muslims in general) in his recent address to the House of Commons.  

Indeed, when they put their mind to it, people can make quite an impactful statement against extremist violence.  In January 2015 when Muslim gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, there was an immediate global reaction. The phrase “Je suis Charlie” trended on social media and in fact became one of the most popular hashtags in the history of Twitter.  Approximately 3.4 million people marched in anti-terrorism rallies throughout France, and 40 world leaders — most of whom were white — marched alongside a crowd of over 1 million in Paris.  

While several political and religious leaders have made public statements condemning the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, there is much less activism on the streets and even on social media following this particular atrocity.  Many Muslims who expected words of solidarity, unity, or comfort from non-Muslim family or friends were disappointed by the general lack of interest, even after a mosque was burned in California with a note left in homage to New Zealand.

In a public Facebook post, Shibli Zaman of Texas echoed many Muslims’ feelings when he wrote, “One of the most astonishing things to me that I did not expect — but, in hindsight, realize that I probably should have — is how few of my non-Muslim friends have reached out to me to express condolences and sorrow.” His post concluded, “But I have learned that practically none of my non-Muslim friends care.”

Ladan Rashidi of California posted, simply, “The Silence.  Your silence is deafening. And hurtful.” Although her words were brief and potentially enigmatic, her Muslim Facebook friends instantly understood what she was talking about and commiserated with her.   

Why do words and actions matter so much in the wake of a tragedy?  

Because they have the power to heal and to unite. Muslims feel shattered right now, and the lack of widespread compassion or global activism only heightens the feeling that we are unwanted and “other.”  If 50 innocent Muslims die from terrorism, and the incident does not spark universal outrage, but one Muslim pulls the trigger and the whole world erupts in indignation, then what is that saying about society’s perception of the value of Muslim lives?

To the compassionate non-Muslims who have delivered flowers, supportive messages, and condolences to the Muslim community in New Zealand and elsewhere, I thank you sincerely. You renew our hope in humanity.

To the white people who care enough to acknowledge their privilege and use it to the best of their ability to bring about justice and peace, I salute you.  Please persevere in your noble goals. Please continue to learn about institutionalized racism and attempt to make positive changes. Do not shy away from discussions about race and do not doubt or silence people of color when they explain their feelings.  Our discomfort, our defensiveness, and our professed “colorblindness” should not dominate the conversation every time we hear the word “racism.” We should listen more than speak and put our egos to the side. I am still learning to do this, and while it is not easy, it is crucial to true understanding and transformation.

To the rest of you who have remained silent, for whatever reason:  I ask you to look inside yourself and think about whether you are really satisfied with a system that values some human lives so highly over others.  If you are not a white supremacist, nor a bigot, nor a racist — if you truly oppose these ideologies — then you must do more than remain in your comfortable bubble.  Speak up. Spread love. Fix problems on whatever level you can, to the best of your ability. If you are in a leadership position, the weight on your shoulders is heavy; do not shirk your duty.  To be passive, selfish, apathetic, or lazy is to enable hatred to thrive, and then, whether you intended to or not, you are on the side of the extremists. Which side are you on? Decide and act.

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for their injury.”  — John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.  

For the past decade, writer Laura El Alam has been a regular contributor to SISTERS Magazine, Al Jumuah, and About Islam.  Her articles frequently tackle issues like Muslim American identity, women’s rights in Islam, support of converts/reverts, and racism.  A graduate of Grinnell College, she currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband and five children. Laura recently started a Facebook page, The Common Sense Convert, to support Muslim women, particularly those who are new to the deen.

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