Category Archives: Random

How easy or difficult is it to type #MeToo?

She was skimming through different apps on her phone that night. She suddenly noticed that a lady accused someone on social media of sexually harassing her and she immediately supported the lady fully with all her conviction. All hashtags came out and even though the man accused (apparently) wanted his side of the story to be heard and/ or demanded the lady to at least prove her allegations, she wasn’t willing to let go of her (already formed) judgement about who’s guilty & who’s the victim. ‘These things can never be proved & therefore the lady is right’, she tweeted.

The next morning on breakfast, her parents broke the news to her that her father’s job was being terminated on the allegations of sexual harassment from a female colleague of his at work.

How can they terminate my father like this without any proof or evidence?’ was the first sentence that came out of her mouth. A thought hit her like a lightening bolt. Last night’s tweets were flashing in front of her eyes. She wanted to stick to her stance and started giving counter arguments to herself mentally. ‘But I know my father. He’s not that kinda person’, she said to herself. ‘Well, that guy must also be someone’s father, brother, husband or son. His loved ones would also trust that he’s innocent just like I trust my father’, the counter thought was stronger. ‘But women need to have the independence to speak their minds out and raise their voice’ she made a strong point this time to herself. But as soon as she looked at her distressed father, she thought, ‘But no woman or man for that case should be allowed to make accusations against someone publicly without proof or evidence merely in the name of empowerment.’ She was still confused though as she still wanted to not let go of the stance she had taken in defense of that lady last night on Twitter. ‘Why would a woman come out with such a huge allegation? I mean, what does a woman have to gain from this? She puts everything at risk with this, right?’ she asks herself and immediately realises something. ‘She can be professionally jealous of my father at work. My father’s a fairly handsome man, it could be anything’ she thought. Both cases had now started to mix in her mind and the more she thought the more confused she got.

But according to general public, 90% of the times, the woman is right’ she told herself. ‘My dad’s case though HAS to be from the other 10%’, she tried putting her feet in two boats at the same time through this thought.

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Mud slinging is different from having the courage and power to speak up and fight against oppression. #MeToo might be the need of the hour in the West, but frankly speaking, we live in a society where even if a woman’s dupatta gets stuck in the seat of the bus and she mistakes it for the man sitting behind her in the male compartment pulling it to grab her attention or to harass her, the whole male compartment is going to beat the crap out of the accused without even giving him a chance to speak ONLY because it’s about a woman’s honour.

Sexual harassment in Pakistan has generally been discussed in recent times from only one perspective: a man sexually harassing a woman. In reality, and as we all know already, men are also subjected to sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of other men and women as well. They also feel equally shy to admit when an incident has happened with them where they were harassed, molested or abused by an aunt, uncle, neighbour, friend, teacher, maid, boss, van driver or guard when they were too young or even after they had reached maturity.

So, coming out with experiences related to harassment isn’t only difficult for women, it requires equal (if not more) amount of courage from men. While coming out with such experiences and details of such incidents is considered to be a sign of strength for women, the same is considered to be a sign of weakness or lack of masculinity for men. Where there’s no denying of the fact that generally, women are victims of harassment on more occasions than men and in a lot of cases women do not find the courage or support to express what had happened to them, male victims also find it extremely difficult to put their manliness at risk while coming out with their experiences. Therefore, even though the overall ratio of incidents of sexual harassment (of men to women) would still not be balanced by any means, the percentage of cases NOT REPORTED by male victims would still be pretty much on a higher side.

Therefore, #MeToo, for me, isn’t just confined to a particular gender or a limited set of cases. It goes beyond them.

Keeping gazes down for men and observing the required parda for women as instructed by ALLAH (SWT) is the only way for societies to get rid of this otherwise incurable malady.

Showing as much skin as you like is not empowerment and treating every woman on the road like she’s only there to quench the thirst of your eyes and nafs is not a privilege.

Islam teaches men to keep their eyes off ‘naa-mehram’ women let alone touching or groping them. The only problem is that Islam instructs men to do it regardless of a naa-mehram woman’s permission to touch or watch her even if she invites you to it or ‘doesn’t mind it’ justifying it through phrases like ‘Mera Jism, Meri Marzi’.

So, with all due respect, the argument of ‘Even if I wear nothing, nobody has the right to stare at me‘ is as invalid as ‘Do not step out of your homes if you don’t wanna get leered at.‘ A balance needs to be there from both genders and a distance needs to be kept from both sides.

You know where the line is between a friendly touch and an unwanted grope? To be brutally honest, there is no line and even if there was, that line is drawn even before the ‘friendly’ touch.

Stay in your limits. Give respect to others. Maintain distance from those whom ALLAH (SWT) has instructed you to maintain distance from and always know that you have the right to raise your voice ‘responsibly’.

– Hammad A. Mateen

 

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Earth Day 2018

EarthDay

December- a hopeless lover

It has been a while since I’ve written something (not that there are hundreds and thousands of readers out there waiting for my next piece), and barren spells like these engender a peculiar literary vulnerability that itself is difficult to delineate. December, however has a surreal magnetism attracting words to come out mesmerized like the children of Hamelin in the story of the Pied Piper. For as long as I can remember, December has been my favorite month. All that the frosty month has to offer is almost irresistibly forgivable like it is for the storytelling, adventure sharing voyager who’s all set to embark on a journey after a brief stay as a lodger at our place.

It’s like trudging towards the end line after a laborious (sometimes even exasperating) journey and as ironically contrasting as it may sound, the end line itself is only a mirage in the winter; a mere pit stop after which all engines have to fire again. The race enters into another lap and continues with the same (if not greater) vehemence. The decision to look back or to keep focus on what’s coming up ahead is strangely irrelevant as engaging oneself in either of the two does not perturb the flow of time even for a nanosecond- it does not cease to move forward shamelessly.

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Even though December relishes the status of a full-fledged ‘31 day’ month, it suffers the constant misfortune of being ignored in that it is spent by the spenders either in recollecting memories, experiences, lessons and moments from its antecedents or in making promises, resolutions and plans for its successors. Hence, the lack of warmth, maybe! You can’t blame someone for being cold after they’ve been ignored like December, can you? It is unfair. I mean, the poor thing makes an effort every year by showering gifts like enchanting dry fruits, hearths brightened up with fire, snowfalls, cozy blankets, early evenings, the occasional romantic rain, a holiday season full of vacations and mouthwatering discounts on shopping. Yet, the best celebrations take place on the night December bids farewell. Must be painful being December, knowing that the reason for everyone’s rejoice is your going-away.

For me, this darling month is like an altruistic, hopeless lover with an innocuous amour-propre that is seductive in its own special way.

Happy December, everyone!

Hammad A. Mateen

A conversation at the barber’s shop

Two Karachiites in conversation with each other at a barber’s shop while they wait for their turns:

First guy:              This ‘gormint’ is as useless as a punctured stepney.  I mean look at what just 2 days of rain has done to the city!

Second guy:       Mmmmm…. (Maintains his attention on skimming through images on the showbiz page of a newspaper without caring too much about the date of the paper)

First guy:              You know how difficult it was to just reach here from my place? It was like laboring my way through a swamp. Disgusting!!!

Second guy:       (Pulls his head out of the newspaper almost involuntarily) But you had to come here, didn’t you?

First guy:              Of course! What else could I have done at home? I was getting bored. The electricity’s playing hide and seek since the day the first drop of rain fell on those fragile electricity wires in our area. All thanks to our ‘gormint’.

Second guy:       So, basically you had nothing to do & you thought it would be a good idea to step out for a while and visit the barber’s? (Puts the newspaper away and turns his attention completely towards the first guy)

First guy:              (Affably) Yes!

Second guy:       And you ‘labored’ your way through the ‘swamp’ to reach here just because you were getting bored?

First guy:              (With the same zeal) Yes! And because I knew there would be electricity here.

Second guy:         How did you know there would be electricity here?

First guy:              Well, they have a different PMT for this area. I hook up the ‘kunda’ for my place from this very line. (Looks at the barber and winks at him with a smirk)

Second guy:         (Confused) So you didn’t hook up your ‘kunda’ today?

First guy:              Of course I did. But my cable operator doesn’t do that. So, I couldn’t watch TV.

Second guy:       Right! So, don’t you think the electricity crisis in the city may also have something to do with the ‘kunda’ culture that we have. I mean they do announce that areas with electricity theft and low recovery will experience load shedding.

First guy:              That’s all bullshit! How is my ‘kunda’ theft?

Second guy:         (Baffled) How is it not?

First guy:              It is theft when no one pays for the electricity I consume, right?

Second guy:          (Keenly) Yes…

First guy:              Well, I’m already over-charged for the units I consume legally. They can deduct the amount for the units I consume through my ‘kunda’ from there. The day they stop looting the consumers, all problems will be solved.

Second guy:         So, it is there fault completely?

First guy:              It sure is. The whole ‘Gormint’ is at fault. They can manage nothing properly. They’re just interested in getting their pockets filled. I mean, just look at these guys from the building control authority for instance.

Second guy:        What about them?

First guy:              I built an extra floor at my place and the day the whole floor got completed, they came over with their team to demolish it. They claimed that it was illegal.

Second guy:          Was it?

First guy:               So what if it was! I gave them what they wanted when I got the layout approved for it.

Second guy:          So you knew it was illegal and you still went ahead with it?

First guy:              That’s not the problem. The problem is that they knew what was happening all along and yet they didn’t say a word until it was all complete. They knew I had nowhere to go after that. Bloody blackmailers!

Second guy:          So, the problem lies with them, you say?

First guy:              Oh! So what do YOU think? It’s my fault?

Second guy:       (Retreating) Oh no! Why would I think that? Why would I possibly think that?

First guy:              See! They have crooks in disguise of ‘gormint’ officials. They can’t swallow the fact that someone can earn a little from their own assets.

Second guy:        Earn?

First guy:             Yeah! Someone must have tipped them off about me.

Second guy:       Tipped them off about you… building the extra floor?

First guy:             No, about me selling off portions of my house.

Second guy:       (Takes a look at the grinning barber who was busy clipping off another customer’s hair) Oh, boy! You sold off portions of your house. How many?

First guy:              I made 6 portions- sold 5 of them. Had to keep one for myself too, u know. (Chuckles)

Second guy:       So, you made 6 portions in a 120 sq. yard house and sold 5 of them. Impressive!

First guy:             (With excitement that had arrogance written all over it) Isn’t it? I can get you in touch with the contractor who did it. The guy can make Burj Khalifa over an Eighty Sq. Yard plot.

Second guy:       (As if he had heard enough) No, thanks. I’m good.  I think I should leave now. I will probably come back some other time for the haircut. (Stands up and puts his hand on the barber’s shoulder to indicate that he’s leaving)

First guy:            There’s a marsh outside waiting for you, remember? A gift from the local authorities to the citizens of the ‘CITY OF LIGHTS’. A blend of rain and sewerage water. They can’t even clear the gutters of this city efficiently, for God’s sake!

Second guy:       (Turns around to the first guy with a look of annoyance this time) That’s probably because the gutters are working overtime already with people like you illegally building and selling off portions to settle multiple families in accommodations that should ideally house a single household. A sewerage line installed to cater a single family is being flooded with excessive waste on a permanent basis. But hey! That’s not your mistake either, is it?

First guy:            (Pretentiously surprised) You mean it is???

Second guy:       (Frustrated) Oh no! It is all the government’s fault. All of it! Just that everyone sitting in those government offices and helm of affairs are a reflection of who we are. You, and me, and everyone around us. The ones accepting bribes are as at fault as the ones offering it. People who are not doing their jobs properly of enforcing law are as at fault as those who are breaking it. I’m literally fed up with people whining all the time about everything being everybody else’s responsibility while they sit back and be a part of the very corrupt system they complain about.

First guy:            (As calm as a millpond) Take it easy, ‘Imran Khan’! Have a glass of water. Or should I order you a cold drink? You’re next in line for the haircut and if I had to swim back home through a swamp, I’d do it with a nice clean haircut. Especially after I’d waited for it for quite some time. (Looks around at the other men waiting for their turns with the most brazen of giggles)

Second guy:       (Sarcastic) Don’t worry about me. I’ll order a boat.

First guy:            Fine, suit yourself! They’ve got Peak Factors on these days on boats too, by the way! (Bursts into laughter as the second guy storms out of the barber’s shop)

 

Hammad A. Mateen

If you are reading this, you’re lucky to be not one of those who aren’t

Think about your father, your brother, your son, your sister, your mother, your daughter, your grandchild, your uncle, your aunt, or any of the most closest relations that you may possibly have and consider close. Picture all of them in your mind with all the nicest memories you have of them till now. Recall all the moments where they’ve been there to comfort you- even if comforting meant to only have the knowledge that they’re there for you.

Say your brother’s name once… Now your sister’s name… Now your child’s.

What was the last thing you said to your brother? What did you tell your son when you saw him last? Come on! Try recalling. Even if it was minutes ago.

Now imagine if I tell you that all these loved ones of yours just passed away in an accident or an act of terror that just lasted for a few seconds. Yes! You no longer have your father, brothers, mother, wife, daughter or son. You’ve lost all of them together.

Now say all those names again and tell yourself that they are DEAD. Never to be seen walking around the house, talking to you, laughing with you, crying with you, teasing you, or comforting you ever again.

This is how it is to the surivors of those who pass away in incidents where the news goes like: “5 members of the same family killed in the incident.” News that hardly means anything to us as we casually move on to the next news item without feeling the slightest of compassion for the deceased or their survivors. Forget about compassion, we’re probably not even consciously thankful to God that it wasn’t us in their place.

We’ve belittled the value of human life in our minds so much that we only consider ourselves and those whom we consider our own as humans. We’re comfortable in leaving it to God to take care of the rest of mankind but that too after God takes care of us in a manner that we deem fit.

A few years back, a friend’s cousin met with a road accident and required blood urgently. Upon receiving the message from that friend of mine I quickly spread the word in my circle of influence in order to make an attempt to arrange the required blood type quickly. A mutual friend of ours texted me back asking who the blood was required for. When I gave him the details he was very quick to respond in a manner that boiled my own blood quite instantly. He highlighted the fact that our friend (and therefore his cousin by that connection) belonged to a different sect. He also questioned me whether I was sure about asking people to donate blood for someone from another background.

I was flabbergasted at his response to say the least. All I could come up with in response to this was a simple question: What would you do if you find someone bleeding on the road requiring urgent medical attention? Would you take him to the hospital immediately or run a background check first confirming which religion, sect or group the person belongs to before deciding your next course of action?

Although his response was far less offensive to my surprise but since that day every time I recall the same question, I end up questioning myself for asking that question in the first place. I mean, let’s be honest here with ourselves. How many of us would even stop at the sight of a bleeding person on the road? Not many. Fortunately enough, the time hasn’t come yet when I could sadly yet confidently state ‘none of us’ in response to this very difficult question. But still, the continuously deteriorating situation is not something to write home about as far as compassion is concerned in our society.

Why does it have to take someone who is our own to make us feel the pain? Why has empathy been reduced to merely a topic that corporate trainers & motivational speakers charge huge sums to lecture about in workshops & training sessions? Why does blood have to be treated as blood only when it comes out of us?

All lives have to end one day. Some later than others. If you are reading this, you’re lucky to be not one of those who aren’t. Not because they don’t like reading what I write, but because they’re simply not alive anymore to do so.

Value life, and not just yours but every other human being alive. For every man and woman no matter what religion, sect, caste, group or ethnicity they belong to, and no matter how irrelevant they may be to you, they are someone’s own. Just like your parents, siblings, spouse or any other loved one, the mere thought of whose separation till the life hereafter absolutely sends shivers down your spine.

Hammad A. Mateen

Rationality- a facade

Rationality is such a facade- a getaway that is as equal in magnitude as fantasy. The desire to be pragmatic is as incomprehensible as the yearning to achieve something ideal. Who defines rationality? Isn’t it defined by the very set of people who reject it under different circumstances. Why is a revolutionist always an idealist and why are the followers always ordinarily rational afterwards?

Photo Courtesy: https://ak8.picdn.net

Why is there always light at the end of the tunnel? Why do we always crave for light? Is it because it opens our eyes to what’s in front of us? If so, then why do we fall? Why is darkness not hope for the ordinary to achieve something new? Is it because we are afraid? Afraid of ourselves of coming across something in the dark that may feel like our own yet it may not turn out to be something acceptable to those outside in the light. Why is ‘normal’ normal? Who decides what brings us out of our misery? Who decides if misery is misery?

Evolution is inevitable. But is evolution really moving forward? What if it’s merely travelling back in time? Why do we make mistakes when everything that happens has happened before and that too countless times with countless people, many of whom live to tell the tale and warn those who come after them?

Is reality a fantasy- or is it the other way round? Bleak memories of our past surround us like wolves that threaten to tear us apart with the slightest movement of our muscles. Yet we know we have to keep moving. Growls of these wolves keep frightening our souls as our bodies sleep dead and wake up alive every passing night and day hoping for a future that is placid and free from all worries- a fantasy that we choose to pursue in a rational world.

How naive is man!

Hammad A. Mateen

Xiaomi brings Redmi 4X to Pakistan in partnership with Smartlink Technologies

With the launch of Redmi 4X, Xiaomi demonstrates its commitment to the market

One of the world’s leading technology company Xiaomi launches Redmi 4X in Pakistan on Saturday through distribution partner SmartLink Technology. The launch event took place in Lahore on Friday and was hosted by none other than the witty Taimur Salahuddin AKA Mooroo.

Audiences were provided double dose of entertainment with the hilarious jokes of Mooroo and scintillating performances by Pakistan’s leading band Noori and Nescafe Basement band with Altamash Sarver who made audiences dance to their favourite tracks. The stunning Mira Sethi also made a special guest appearance who was all praises for the newly launched Smartphone, equipped with the latest technology in an affordable price.

Smartlink Technologies Marketing Director Ahmed Butt was quoted as saying, “Majority of the Pakistani consumers prefer to purchase smartphones remaining in this price bracket and thus this bracket has always remained a key market for all brands. We have confidence that Redmi 4X will be a hit within its own price bracket, as the smartphone surely outperforms its competition in the market.”

Ahmed-Butt-Smartlinks Technologies

Redmi 4X

Redmi 4X features a full metal body, is the slimmest in design at just 8.65mm of thickness and weighs a mere 150g. Equipped with a 4100mAh battery, Redmi 4X has an impressive standby time of up to 18 days! Bid those dying battery issues adieu! It will be available with a 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, so users can multi-task more efficiently, having more space for their downloaded applications and images. Redmi 4X will be available in the markets from Saturday in black a price of Rs 18,900.

Redmi4X launch

The smartphones will be available offline across the country and online at official mistore.pk and at authorised online sales agents including Daraz.pk and Yayvo.com.

Every Redmi 4X will ship with MIUI 8 which builds in several technology breakthroughs such as being able to clone apps and manage multiple accounts on the same phone. This means that users can have two instances of a messaging app on the same phone that correspond to different accounts, removing the inconvenience of having to log in and out on the same app. With MIUI 8, users can also split their smartphones into two accounts. This means that a different password or fingerprint can allow you to access a different home screen entirely, with independent apps and data. According to their needs, users can choose to merge certain data such as the address book and their call log history.

Key features of Redmi 4X:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 with (Octa-core 1.4GHz)
  • 4100mAh battery
  • 13MP camera with PDAF; 5MP front camera
  • 5-inch HD display
  • Dual SIM (3-choose-2 hybrid SIM tray)
  • LTE support
  • 3GB RAM + 32GB Flash
  • Up to 128GB microSD expandable storage
  • Rear fingerprint sensor
  • Available in Black

About Xiaomi

Xiaomi was founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Lei Jun based on the vision “innovation for everyone”. We believe that high-quality products built with cutting edge technology should be made accessible to everyone. We create remarkable hardware, software, and internet services for and with the help of our Mi fans. We incorporate their feedback into our product range, which currently includes Mi and Redmi smartphones, Mi TVs and set-top boxes, Mi routers, and Mi Ecosystem products including smart home products, wearables and other accessories. With more than 70 million handsets sold in 2015, Xiaomi is expanding its footprint across the world to become a global brand.

About Smartlink Technologies

Established in 2016, Smartlink Technologies is a brainchild of a pool of professionals whose strong vision and even stronger conviction paved the way for an exclusive partnership with Xiaomi. We believe in reaching out to both the low-end and the high-end consumers and still give out state-of-the-art and warranted products at the best possible prices. We live in an age where the digital world meanders from smartphones to smart everything – we see it all around us. Smartlink Technologies strives to connect latest technology with modern and innovative sales techniques to change not only how brands are marketed but also how they define themselves.

‘Sangbaaz’: a tribute to the 3rd uprising- Intifada of the East

The freedom movement in Indian-held Kashmir rejuvenated from the martyrdom of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last year. Wani’s blood proved to serve as fuel to the spark of a new wave of resistance from the Kashmiri youth in the face of Indian atrocities in Jammu & Kashmir.  2017 marks the 70th year of Indian oppression over a valley, people of which drape the coffins of their martyrs with Pakistani flags and chant slogans like ‘Kashmir baneyga Pakistan!’ during funeral processions.

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Jammu & Kashmir, which has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan continues to be denied the right of its people to decide about their fate by ‘the barbarous’ India. By attempting to savagely suppress the freedom movement of Kashmiri people, India is not only quite heinously violating human rights in the valley, but is also pretty shamelessly not complying to the UN Security Council Resolution on Kashmir which ironically came as a result of the case being taken to the United Nations by no one else but India itself.

People of Pakistan continue their support for their brothers and sisters in Kashmir in their struggle for freedom. 5th February each year reminds the world of this support through ‘Kashmir Day’. This year, Inter-Services Public Relations released Sangbaaz (The Stone Pelters)- a tribute to the valiant struggle of the youth of Jammu & Kashmir. The song highlights the inhuman methods (such as use of pellet guns) used by Indian forces in the valley to crush the freedom movement and the unending resilience of the men, women and children of Jammu & Kashmir.

Pakistanis across the world observe Kashmir Day today in order to announce to the world that no matter what happens, the people of Pakistan will not cease to show solidarity with their Kashmiri brothers and sisters and will keep pushing the international community to wake up from their slumber and give the Kashmiri people their right of self-determination.

Cheen le aankhein mujhse… Khwaab tu kaisay cheenayga?

Hammad A. Mateen

Junaid Jamshed: From Rock star to Rehemahullah

I was never a die-hard Vital Signs’ fan, I was more of a ‘Junooni’, always trying to imitate Ali Azmat’s flair and style of singing. I don’t have a cognizant memory for the reason of my admiration for ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ like many others who were born in the mid or late 80’s. All I remember is that the first patriotic song that came to any Pakistani’s mind in those days was ‘Dil Dil Pakistan.’ It was like the unofficial national anthem of the country. Coming back to Vital Signs, it was never that band for me whose posters I would put on the walls or cupboards of my room. They were just there, a group of ‘Mummy Daddy boys’ consistently producing hit songs that were almost taken for granted by people like myself. It was only after the band disintegrated and Junaid Jamshed went solo when I felt his presence for the first time. Maybe that was the beauty of Vital Signs, that they were always liked or disliked as a band and not members of the band in isolation. Anyways, Junaid Jamshed was now ‘Junaid of Vital Signs’ (the original title of his first solo album too).

I had a thing about music and singing from my early childhood and I even considered taking up singing as a full time career at one point in time in my life (more about that some other time). As time passed, I became more aware about the intricacies of music and how this was not something as easy as people generally perceive it to be. I was still a Junoon fan but something about Junaid Jamshed’s voice and the songs that he sung kept knocking on the doors of my mind and musical senses. For reasons unknown, I started listening to old Vital Sign tracks all over again just to re-explore what I had missed in those days. ‘Aitebar bhi’ suddenly became one of my all-time favorites (specially the unplugged version). After Vital Signs, ‘Tumhara aur mera naam’ presented a challenge for me of sorts somehow as a singer whenever I tried singing it and then came ‘Dil ki baat’ and ‘Keh do jo bhi mann mein aey’ and by that time Junaid Jamshed had gained the respect and acceptance from my mind as a musician that he had already earned through his work a decade ago from both the fraternity and music lovers across the globe. And then things started changing.

The more I wanted of Junaid Jamshed, the more effort I had to make. His appearances became rare and news started circulating about him exiting the music scene. Honestly, I wasn’t too bothered about him leaving the music scene because by that time, the music scene in Pakistan had taken on a new shape and there were plenty of new comers who could carry the torch ahead very well from him. What bothered me more was my curiosity to know why he was choosing to call it a day from the music world. I remember watching him judge the first ‘Pepsi Battle of the Bands’ finale where Entity Paradigm (EP) gave a mind-blowing performance by fusing Junaid Jamshed’s and Strings’ ‘Tu hai kahan’ with ‘Aazmaa’. Junaid Jamshed had a stubble at that time but all I could care about was him being part of the judges’ panel and appreciating the new kids on the block. Junaid Jamshed finally announced his dissociation with music and I was again looking for reasons why someone would do that after seeing so much fame and fortune.

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It was this curiosity that made me follow him even more, almost inadvertently. I started exploring religion myself. Even though this exploration was triggered by Junaid Jamshed, I never followed him blindly into it and took an unbiased route making sure that my decisions and learnings would be my own and not based on anybody else’s experiences. I didn’t know at that time that he had done the same himself. With the passage of time, I kept on getting more and more impressed by the level of faith and confidence Junaid Jamshed had on ALLAH (SWT) and the sacrifices he had made based on that very faith. ALLAH (SWT) rewarded him at each step. He got tested and rewarded and this had almost become cyclic for him. He would never lose the very public attention he had put on the line with his decision of parting ways from the world of music.

For reasons that are incomparable to a great degree, I would associate myself to him. My association though would never be based or even slightly bear resemblance to the goodness that Junaid Jamshed had as a person and a Muslim. I would find myself in situations where almost every time I could relate with how that great man must have felt in those situations. Situations where I would speak a little too much in excitement about Deen and would then realize that I shouldn’t speak without asking elders or Ulama. The constant struggle that I face each minute of my life against the will to return to a life that has no-holds-barred or at least a little more ‘independence’ to do stuff that I would normally refrain myself from doing now. My constant battles with conceit.

I guess, there are tens of thousands if not millions of people out there like me who feel the same. I speak for myself here though. But as soon as I associate myself and my situation with Junaid bhai, I immediately realize how immensely different my situation is with him. It is only similar till the time I accidentally land into it. After that, me and Junaid bhai share completely contrasting circumstances. Mine, by the grace of ALLAH (SWT) are limited to a very few people while Junaid bhai had magnifying glasses from millions scrutinizing him at each second of his life. Everything he said or did or planned to do was examined and commented upon by people from all walks of life- people who barely knew or understood what he was talking about in the first place. He had carried that extra-baggage with him. But the best part about him was that he never expressed any sort of despondence about it. He forgave all and constantly asked for forgiveness from everyone and kept walking on the road which he believed led to Jannah and the forgiveness of the Al-Mighty.

The best Ramadan of my life so far has been one in which I would listen to his nasheeds all day and night. ‘Jalwa-e-Jaanaa’, ‘Muhammad (SAW) ka roza’, ‘Mera Dil badal de’ and ‘Ilahi teri choakhat par’ would bring out tears from my eyes and they still do. I would put my children to sleep reciting ‘Ae ALLAH, Tu hi ata Tu jood-o-sakhaa’. I would envy him in a good way for the love that he would get from Ulama and renowned scholars from not only Pakistan but from across the globe. He was ‘laadla’ of all Ulama-e-Karaam. Be it Hazrat Hakeem Akhtar Sb. (RA) or Mufti Taqi Usmani Sb. (DB) or Pir Zulfiqar Sb. (DB) and not to forget Hazrat Maulana Tariq Jameel Sb. (DB). Our Ramadan would be incomplete without him and I must confess that I am yet to see an anchor handle scholars and audience from so many different sects on a single forum with such a cultured and tolerant approach like Junaid bhai used to.

I do not think I have shared so much personal detail in any of my pieces till date. And I am not sure if I will ever do that again (ALLAH (SWT) knows best). But this is for Junaid bhai (RA). An elder brother to so many like me. A man who became a source of reigniting our love for ALLAH (SWT) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW). A normal human being who was like us and yet so different from all of us because of the choices he made in his life and the efforts that he made to stick to those choices.

He was surely one of a kind and someone who made his journey from JJ to Junaid bhai and from a Rock star to Rehemahullah.

May ALLAH (SWT) forgive him and grant him with Jannah of the highest level- Aameen.

Hammad A. Mateen

 

Policy & Procedures: Do organizations really mean it?

The second half of the 20th century brought with it a start to revolutionary changes in organizational management styles. Emphasis started being given to proper management structures where a concept of shared ownership was developed and policies opened the top managements’ doors for everyone at the workplace. Management suddenly became a science and terms like data mining, forecasting, and decision analysis etc. became the talk of the town. Business had new rules- rules that were governed by the principles set by management theories. Systems, structures and frameworks had started being developed and/ or adopted. A new breed of professionals emerged onto the scene and they called themselves ‘Consultants’. They would help organizations open up their eyes to see what was happening in the outside world. This awakening though would cost organizations fortunes. But, companies felt it was the need of the hour and in some cases, an ‘in’ thing to hire a consultant and have systems implemented. There was a small problem to all of this though- humans.

I participated in a training in Osaka back in 2012 which was a trainer’s trainer course for the Management Training Program (MTP). What struck me the most in Japan was an astonishing contrast. It was a contrast between understanding human beings and implementing strong systems. For many, it may not come across as a contrast. It may not even come across as relevant for a few. But what was interesting for me to observe was the presence of such strong and robust systems and infrastructures in every field and walk of life there and yet the heart of the management training program was to understand human beings better. I think this is because of the underlying fact that all systems and policies are useless until those upon whom these policies have an effect on are understood completely encompassing every facet of their personalities. Human psychology is a complex subject and those who are students of this subject would agree to me on that. Every human being is a different person, with different needs, reactions and patterns of thinking. And to categorize them is a task that only has a start and no definite end to it.

Frameworks and policies therefore fail to take on a robust shape in countries like ours where importance is given to personalities more than the system itself. How many times have we seen organizations that are run on a system that completely depends on one or two individuals who are sitting at the helm of affairs?
It is actually unfair to call this kind of setting a ‘system’ in the first place. These are work environments where educated, qualified professionals boast about the prevalent management theories of their times or maybe even those that are predicted for the times to come. Yet, in effect, their own organizations or departments lack seriousness in the very same areas. Systems and structures are merely used as disposable tools for short term benefits that are often even limited to personal gains instead of organizational advantage.

Change is the only thing that is consistent in these kind of organizations. The primary reason behind this is the on-going violation of policies in the name of amendments/ enhancements. The interesting part is that this is led/ allowed from the top. Policies and systems in such organizations are intentionally set on weak foundations so that the same can be used against personnel by putting the blame on them for certain failures. I have seen policies that have room for exceptional cases ending up being used in way that it becomes difficult for one to distinguish between a rule and exception. Policies that are already made flexible are stretched to greater lengths and in many cases even revised frequently in order to entertain items on the wish list of those who disagree with what their predecessors had been doing- even if that means overwhelming any good practices. Dependence on institutional memory instead of concrete systems is not something that organizations should be proud of.

In this time, it is considered shameful for someone to concede that any of the work done by their predecessors was correct and on-track. This is basically because of the pressures ineffably and sometimes even explicitly put on new comers when bringing them on-board. These pressures push individuals to either re-brand the system that was already in place (discrediting all the work previously done) or start all over again reinventing the wheel. They need to do this in order to please egos of the people sitting at C-level positions in organizations who actually brought them on-board in the first position. It is sad but true.

From modern organizational management styles to pleasing egos, the work environment of many organizations specially in the sub-continent has generally deteriorated over time and systems and frameworks only serve the purpose of pleasant visual professional packaging and sometimes helps the organization get by compliance issues. Theories keep pouring in everyday and most of them may also be effective in reality. However, if there is a will to make a difference, one must adopt a mindset where scopes are defined, systems are strengthened and structures are allowed to mature and be followed. This requires consistency on both personal and professional levels and a control over one’s will to mold the system as per his/ her personal desires. Maybe that is what the world generally calls ‘professionalism’.

Hammad A. Mateen