Friday, February 15, 2008


Stronger Love For Troubled Times
The Current Discussion: For Valentine’s Day, this question: What is the future of love?

Although our moderators asked this question in the interest of lightening up the debate, it comes across somewhat like asking as to the future of global warming, or the future of the U.S. economy. Perhaps our approach to life, love and happiness is too stunted to consider the esoteric elements of life anymore; is it in earnestness that we have commercialized Valentine’s Day and Christmas?

I am happy to report that at the most basic level, the future of love is there to stay, though in what shape or form is a matter of conjecture when it comes to the perspectives from which we approach it. But then truly love is, in its essence, a process, composed of a myriad of passions which bring a procession of expectations, joys, laughter, intimacy and much more to our heart, with the occasional heartache, too. To a jilted lover, love then is masochistic, to a newly loved it’s a joyous moment promised forever. In either case love between humans will remain, and for as long as humankind exists. Love is without a true gender; it is in its form nothing else then the process of loving through the expression of emotions. How society becomes more tolerant will dictate the more varied expressions of love, some to the dismay of many who would oppose same-sex marriage.

Love is, in the end, the process by which you realize your best in the other person. It’s an act of giving, and even though at a societal level we are faced with more cliched hatred then ever before, there is a higher probability that at the personal level love will sustain and perhaps in these troubled times grow stronger. I hope we as humans will not forget to love. As I once wrote to my wife, in a poem:

I have stepped forward
I have capitulated
And if this love were to annihilate me

Gladly shall I be its servile servant
For a soul surrendered to love
Is better than servitude to angered aloneness.

Hijab Politics

From my PostGlobal contribution

Hijab Politics
I come from a tribal family from Pakistan and was brought up to respect the religious wishes and inclinations of all people. This meant that my mother and sisters never wore the veil, and even when my mother visited the tribal areas for the first time in 1942 and wanted to wear a veil, my father told her she should not wear it if she did not wish to. My uncles and aunts were initially shocked by my mother turning up in a sari and no veil, to which my father replied that religion was a personal matter.

Thus, all the noise in Europe over the issue of the veil seems to me a bit overblown. I personally do not believe that the veil in modern times is necessary, and as societies modernize and educate their people they will realize that the issue of a veil is more to veil one’s intentions rather than a simple cover up. In equal measure, I agree that Muslims in Europe and America can modernize and not necessarily Westernize. Yet when such societies are put under siege, with media pressure to abandon what they think is important, there is a tendency to drag one’s heels and avoid change. The freedom-loving sense within me says that if in a democratic and free system one religion is allowed to practice its beliefs, so must the others.

I feel a personal sense of disappointment that the Turkish parliament has decided to change a secular tradition in Turkey, but that feeling has to be weighed with the fact that this was an act of parliament and not an arbitrary decision by a mullah. Although as secular democrats we may find it as a loss to our ideals of freedom, we must also accept that this seems to be what the Turkish people voted for. In that sense, accepting it is vitally important, as is the hope that if indeed the people did not want it then the rule will be dissolved through the action of future parliaments. What is important is that the veil is not imposed, but is a matter of choice.

The issue of the veil is more contentious within ostensibly Christian countries, where Muslim minorities may wish to wear the veil (as was the case in France) and laws are passed to take away that individual choice. In UAE, where I live, there are Christian churches on land donated by the government and there is a freedom given to the various faiths. I do hope that other Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia, will eventually adopt the same attitude. Throughout history there are examples of coexistence that stand out, i.e. Spain under the Muslims. Passing laws that are targeted against religions never works, as we have seen in history, and in the same vein all that the Turkish government has done is granted the freedom of choice to women to either wear the veil or not. I would hope that in the long run, the veil will not be imposed but will continue to be a matter of choice. Choice is, after all, the premise of any democratic system, however we may disagree with it. Thus, to me, forcing women to wear the veil is also wrong.