Tag Archives: balance

Who will pay the ‘Qisaas’ of those who died yesterday?

While the country was busy in the Ehtesaab Rally and the Qisaas March, an innocent kid and a lady lost their lives in Lahore and Rawalpindi yesterday as both of the deceased could not reach the hospital on time for their lives to be saved. A few months back, another little angel was sent back to the heavens in her father’s arms in Karachi when Baby Bhutto’s protocol denied Bisma’s parents’ entry to Civil Hospital where Bilawal was inaugurating a Trauma Center; an inauguration indeed that came with a trauma for Faisal Mohammad Hussain (Bisma’s father) and his family. These are just 3 of the many deaths on roads, in ambulances and rickshaws this country has seen over the past so many years where politics, politicians and the elite of this country have cost the common man their lives. The very common man that makes them what they are through filling ballot boxes with votes for them for which they come begging to their doors before elections. The very common man that speaks in their favor in countless debates at roadside hotels, barber shops, meat markets and the social media without having met them even once in their lives. I wonder who will be held accountable (whose ehtesaab will be carried out) for yesterday’s deaths and who will pay the Qisaas?

I am all for fighting against corruption and bringing back the country’s looted money to where it belongs, but while we are at it, we also need to learn a few more things from the very nations that we aspire to become one day. That goes for both the ruling parties and those in opposition. This also implies to the bureaucracy in the country. Most importantly, this also holds true for the common man themselves.

Saying no to VIP culture is the ‘in’ thing these days. We see people taking out their cell phones and recording videos of such incidents and posting them online. Some of them have gone viral as well. But are we as a nation mentally sold to the idea of eliminating a VIP culture that also includes us? Are we aware and conscious of the fact that at some level and in some cases we may also be the VIPs ourselves and that while shouting out a ‘Say no to VIP culture’ slogan, we may actually be acting a little hypocritical . You see whenever we talk about a ‘No VIP’ culture, we’re generally talking about those who we consider VIPs and the influential strata of the society. What we tend to forget very easily is the level to which this disease has already spread. This includes, going to banks for payments and asking a friend who works over there to relieve us from the hassle of standing in a queue. This also involves people driving cars considering those on motorbikes inferior and therefore not important enough to be given way on the road. These are examples where we, the common people and citizens of this country take pride in breaking the rules and feeling special.

Generally, the fight against VIP Culture is more out of us being jealous than anything else. We have trouble seeing others being given VIP treatment while deep down inside we hanker ourselves to be treated the same way and whenever we get the slightest of chance of to do that, we make sure we do not let go of it.

So the next time you say ‘No to VIP culture’, make sure you believe in it and are ready to implement it in your own lives as well.

VIP-Movement

Make way! Important people are passing. Photo Courtesy: Insider.pk

As far as the elite of our society go, I completely understand the security situation of the country and also realize how valuable your lives are in comparison to a normal person walking on the streets. After all, you are the people who work day and night to protect, serve and lead us towards a brighter, better future. Despite all my understanding and the trust that I have in you no matter how contrasting the on-ground reality is, I’m still not comfortable watching people losing their lives just because you were busy working towards their well-being. You can do your Dharnas and Jalsas and Rallies and the common man will continue to keep filling stadia and flooding the roads but just give a little consideration towards not hampering the routine life of the same common man; the cobbler on the roadside who all of a sudden finds himself in the way of the rally, the ambulance on the way to the hospital with a patient in critical condition that is stuck either due to your VIP movement or road blockages, or the fruit vendor who earns only enough in a day to survive the next day and has to shut down his business as he is seen to be a potential security threat for the Jalsa. These are the people who only get negatively impacted from the positivity that you wish to spread through your actions.

Societies that we look up to and desire to be like uphold, promote, and practice equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels. This is something that demands equal amount of effort and seriousness from all stakeholders including government, opposition, bureaucracy, civil society and general public. Those who lead and those who follow need to accept the same set of rules and decide once and for all not to compromise on principles.

After all, those who block the traffic for VIP movements or place obstacles on the roads are also part of the same society from which both the ones for whom the traffic is blocked and those who suffer due to it belong.

Let’s start from ourselves and mend our ways. Take small steps but all in the right direction.

-Hammad A. Mateen

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How much is enough?

What’s the strongest feeling in the world?

Love?

Wrong!

It’s hunger.

What’s the 2nd strongest feeling in this world?

Love?

Wrong!

It’s greed.

In between hunger and greed, all other feelings and emotions float in the ocean of desire. Yet, this ocean squeezes into a droplet in the blink of an eye once hunger is fulfilled. Greed starts taking over.

Human life in a nutshell is a struggle to overcome hunger and to not succumb to greed; the perfect balance. Not everyone however is able to cope up to the pressures of maintaining this balance. It’s like a necessity to reach a particular speed while driving a car and then to resist the temptation of over speeding knowing it may leave you with no time to slow down resulting in the car crashing into a wall.

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Where did love go in all this?

Let’s treat it as an object more than an emotion. An object which we are hungry for and consider something a necessity for life. An object which when acquired makes you want more. Just like money or time or lust or chocolate maybe. So there’s hunger for love and then there’s greed for the same. It’s ridiculously astounding but it’s absolutely true for a lot of us claiming to be one of the most civilized creatures on the face of the planet.

That moment when hunger turns into greed, that very fine line is very difficult to notice and usually goes by without us realizing. If only we have the power to control. Oh but we do! It’s just the submission of all powers to these two feelings that leaves us so frail. Interestingly, it can very well be the hunger for power itself that takes our mind away from our own power to resist becoming greedy for the same.

It’s both a process in sequence and a complete dichotomy in itself if looked at closely. Hunger for certain objects is good, inevitable even. Greed on the other hand usually symbolizes a state where there’s an urge to go beyond certain boundaries when there isn’t a necessity to do so. Hunger for recognition for instance will make you work more, greed for the same may push you to discredit others. Hunger may come naturally whereas greed is a self-induced extension of the former. In today’s world, it may also work the other way round. An interesting line I read somewhere said, ‘One man’s greed leads to another man’s hunger.’

I’m freaking you out with all this, aren’t I? I’ll tell you what’s more terrifying. It’s that I’ve just told the truth and as complex as it seems, I’ve only made an effort to simplify it.

Hammad A. Mateen

DNA Dilemma

The most ironic part of parenting is where deep down inside parents do not want their children to become like them when they grow up. There’s no harm in thinking that way as usually all parents have purely good intentions attached to this wish. They want their children to become better human beings than they are. They want them to become more successful in life. It is generally a pack of all deficiencies parents see in their lives which they wish not to be part of their children’s future.

The interesting part here is the fact that we do not want to work on these deficiencies ourselves. In some cases, we might not even see most of them as deficiencies and may even be proud of them but would still not want our children to inherit them. It is a vicious cycle that we are all part of. Some of us conscious about it and the rest not.

Remember the time when we were growing up? The time when ideals were made in our minds. A teacher who touched our hearts, aHappy Familyn uncle with a macho attitude or an elder cousin who could do anything he wants with such great confidence. These are all examples of people who effect our minds and shape our personalities without us even knowing. We look up to them, copy them and want to be like them. Each one of us has a personality contaminated with elements of characteristics from our ideals. The biggest problem with that starts when we lose the sense of what’s right and wrong while blindly following these idols.

Human beings inherit a lot from their parents and ancestors. The DNA not only carries details about physical appearance and characteristics but also holds strong information about how a person will think, react and behave under certain circumstances. This is what basically forms the foundation of our personality when we are growing up. Call it our ‘default setting’. What makes us different from other living creatures though is the gift of intellect from God that enables us and gives us the option of overwriting certain settings inherited from the DNA and form our own personality.

This is where judgement comes into the picture. The sense of knowing what’s right and wrong while being completely detached from any prejudice or bias. We can all never be perfect, neither were our ancestors. To convince ourselves that we’re imperfect is the most difficult step. Of course, all of us agree that nobody is perfect but we actually don’t really count ourselves when we say it. The fabric of tradition and obedience with which our society is so closely knit sometimes does not allow us to explore anything outside it. Neither does it allow to test the fabric itself with time, religion or technology.

Many of us know about some of our habits that are not correct. In terms of the vicious cycle I was referring to earlier, many of us even know some of our parents’ and our children’s habits that are incorrect. We are usually proud of them for that and blame it solely (still not seriously) on the DNA.

  1. ‘O look! He’s so stubborn just like his Grandpa!’
  2. ‘She only does what she wants just like her mother. No point in telling her anything.’
  3. ‘He’s always late. Like father like son.’

For our children, we don’t take it seriously until it becomes a pain for ourselves when they start developing such habits permanently. In case of our elders, we just can’t find the courage and words to correct them in a polite manner. In fact, we aren’t even honest enough to ourselves to accept that anything they do can be incorrect. The purpose of this post in no way is to entice disobedience towards our elders. It is rather an effort to open our eyes to what is right and what is wrong not from an ancestral point of view but from a ‘religiously-correct’ contemporary perspective.

It is perfectly fine not to bring to notice of our elders some of their habits which may not be appropriate (from a contemporary point of view only). At the same time, it is extremely important to look at ourselves critically and explore if any of these habits exist in our own systems. The best we can do is be honest with ourselves and eliminate habits that we do not want our children to inherit. Besides, our parents probably didn’t want us to become like them in the first place.

You may be short-tempered like your father but that is certainly nothing to be proud of, neither would you want your children to become that way. People may love your child being stubborn just like you but that’s not something to be pleased about if you don’t want your child to grow up and become that way.  So, what do you do? You work on yourself for this. Do not expect your children to be better than you without telling them what’s better. The best way of ‘telling’ is ‘showing’ what you mean by ‘doing’ it yourself. There are more chances of them learning from what you practice than from what you preach.

Hammad A. Mateen

Untitled

As you grow old, you realize how inversely proportional your vocabulary becomes to how much you actually speak in general. Listening more than talking has its downsides but in totality, the less you talk, the better it is for you and the people around you.

Of course, communication is the key ingredient in making any relationship successful. However, like everything else in life, excess of this too leads to problems. Here, you may not be able to control one end of the deal but you always have the option of weighing your side of things before throwing in anything.

 People have this tendency to somehow make sure the last word in any conversation belongs to them. This very tendency often pushes conversations to unnecessary lengths and sometimes even disputes, which by the way results in even lengthier and even more unnecessary conversations. You may not always have the whole situation in control but you’ll always have your tongue inside your mouth and the luxury of not using it by not opening your mouth.

A smile usually serves well in many situations instead of actually delivering words. You have to be careful even there though as sometimes even a smile can be misconstrued and you may end up using a lot of words to explain that smile.

‘Minding your own business’ is one of the most difficult jobs in the world nowadays, but the fact of the matter is that it’s beneficial for all if you do it more often than not.

-Hammad A. Mateen

A Cracked Society

We live in a discriminated civilization and our ill fate is that discrimination is the foundation of our society. Religion, region, race, language, color, development, education, economics and a lot more form the slabs of segregation throughout this global civilization.

As far as religion is concerned, differentiation is understandable but it should still not be mistaken for discrimination. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism etc. all support individual rights of their followers and strictly discourage discrimination. Hinduism however has a caste system for which there certainly are issues where Dalits are considered untouchable by the Brahmans for which their justification is that all this is mentioned in their Shastras (Holy books). The Indian constitution discourages this attitude and protects individual rights.

Discrimination however does not end here, there’s a lot more to it. When I look around myself and carefully observe the society I am a part of, I can see many facets of discrimination.

For instance, when parents look for a bride for their son, they do not want a widow or a divorced woman as their daughter-in-law no matter how young the available option is. Their first and mostly the only choice is an unmarried- or as they call it an ‘untouched’ girl. Islam has no prohibition on a girl getting remarried after she has gotten a divorce or if her first husband dies, but our society has formed its own laws and prohibitions. They may however compromise if the widow or divorcee was to be a green card holder or the lone heiress of an empire.

Same is the case in academics and professions, engineers and doctors supersede all other professionals; that is what people know about these two professions, what they don’t know is that even within these two professions there is discrimination. There are good engineers & doctors and then there are the bad ones. In college, the ones who get better grades are good engineers, no matter what means they use to get those good grades. Conceptual learning is not really encouraged until it bears marks.

Professionally, the one who earns more is a good engineer. Same implies when people look for a son-in-law, the first choice is a doctor or engineer, and the second step is to choose an engineer or doctor who earns more than his contemporaries. I read a very interesting but true SMS a few days ago, which said: “He looks for a woman with a good past and she looks for a man with a good future.”

When we look at our family structure itself, we won’t be surprised to see discrimination there also. Most parents prefer and pray to have boys rather than girls whenever a new born is expected. When the result doesn’t match their expectation or liking, the poor girls have to bear the grudge for their very existence throughout their lives by being denied the independence and freedom of expression which their opposite gender may enjoy from their birth till the day they die.

Families more inclined towards religion exercise the discrimination in a way that the daughters have to strictly obey Islamic traditions by doing proper ‘parda’ (veil or abaya) and keep their lips sealed when it comes to making any choice, be it choosing a degree, friend or even a groom. The sons in the family however are free to make their choices. They are the ones who’ll be responsible for carrying the family name forward in the form of a new generation; they are the family’s pride. Unlike the strict obedience of Islamic laws, traditions and rituals which their sisters have to adhere to, they have a far more relaxed environment provided by the parents. They aren’t generally forced to grow beards or adhere to Islamic rituals like their sisters are compelled to do ‘parda’, they aren’t asked too much about what they do and who they hang out with, they are given the freedom to choose their degrees, professions and even life partners.

Parents get away by stating how naughty their son is when they’re told that he has several girlfriends. The situation is different however when they even hear a slight rumor about their daughter having a male friend.

I do not intend to challenge the true Islamic laws and traditions in any way but the same Islamic laws and traditions also do not allow men to live a life that is no-holds-barred.

I also understand that a lot is happening in our society in the name of equality and modernization that is totally unjustifiable and absurd. But still, the dilemma mentioned above is a reality which we must accept.

Now let’s come to those who use the term ‘equal rights’ in a completely different manner, the upper class and ultra-modern segment of our society.  They look down upon anyone and everyone who has a weaker monetary backbone than theirs. It’s a brand conscious segment of society where discrimination is based upon Ray ban, Gucci, Prada and Armani.

I’m not sure how to conclude this piece as there doesn’t seem to be an end to this discrimination in our society. The cracked society we are part of has so many pieces which I have failed to look upon this time. Maybe I’ll have to write more someday, maybe I’ll have to cry more.

Hammad A. Mateen

A thought…

We trust our brains too much at times and thwart the heart, and when we realize our mistake; we push it to the limits with emotions. Maybe that’s why more people die of heart attacks than brain haemorrhages.

Hammad A. Mateen

Optimistic pessimists

Human psychology is a very dry subject. Maybe because sometimes we just don’t want to know the reasons behind what we are doing unless our acts are making us feel satisfied. Satisfaction for different people has different meanings. It depends on geographical, social, cultural and even religious factors. As far as society is concerned, social norms are formed when psychology of a group of individuals overwhelm that of the rest. This can be positive or negative.

As ordinary as we are, we have limited ourselves to certain psychological terminologies around which our lives revolve. We are either optimists or pessimists. We either have a low self-esteem or a higher one. We are either under-confident or over-confident. It is a fact that proper balance is missing in our lives. The reason for this is the fact that we haven’t actually established the correct meanings of the very terms around which our lives tend to take a merry-go-round ride. The virus of materialism has corrupted the hard disks of our minds so badly that even the best of anti-viruses are unable to detect the real problem.

 I heard Maulana Tariq Jameel (a great Islamic speaker) put this scenario into words very aptly. According to him, there are two things, actions (aamal) and knowledge (ilm). If the actions of a nation go astray, there is a chance that they might recover. But if the knowledge of a nation gets off track; it reaches a point of no return.

Now let’s take a look at a couple of very common terms which have a very deep impact on our lives as a society.

Optimism: The word refers to a state of being hopeful and emphasizing on the positives of a situation. We tend to mix its meanings with the word ‘opportunism’ which describes a behavior in which every situation may be used for one’s own advantage. The point I’m trying to make over here is that we’ve linked the wrong meanings to words which can be actually very useful to us if understood correctly.

Man is never thankful to ALLAH (SWT). He is always asking for more and more. In our case: more and more money. We have developed a notion in our minds that an optimist is a person who never relaxes in his quest to conquer the world. You have to be an optimist in order to gain power, status and respect. We are told to never give up our quest and use optimism as a tool to keep going.

Pessimism: It refers to a behavior in which emphasis is given to the bad parts of a situation. We mix its meaning with the word ‘lethargic.’

A pessimist in our society is a person who has feels contented with what he has and does not aim ‘High.’ A person who feels happy for others is a pessimist. They are considered not to have enough competitive drive in them. They get don’t get up in the morning aiming to step over someone else’s shoulder to move ahead in life.

We have gone so wrong in our assumptions about life. The one who we think is a pessimist is actually an optimist. They find satisfaction in whatever they do. They sleep well and have no worries in their minds when they wake up in the morning. They thank ALLAH (SWT) for all they have and do not complain for what they don’t.

On the other hand, the ‘optimist’ is always worried about not being left behind in ‘The Race.’ They sleep with nervous thoughts in their minds and wake up with the same. They are surrounded by complexes at all times; both inferior and superior.

Alas! If we could only realize that ALLAH (SWT) has promised to sustain us unconditionally but He has not promised to forgive us unless we thank and obey Him. We are running and competing in a race which has no finish line. Our lives get finished but our desires don’t. Let’s all pray that ALLAH (SWT) forgives us and enables us to thank Him for all that He has blessed us with. Aameen.

Hammad A. Mateen