Tag Archives: Arabic

Zero IQ Thirty

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

Recent Hollywood blockbuster, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, was quite an experience. Though sharp in its production and direction and largely accurate in depicting the events that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, it went ballistic bad in depicting everyday life on the streets of Pakistan.

With millions of dollars at their disposal, I wonder why the makers of this film couldn’t hire even a most basic advisor to inform them that

1: Pakistanis speak Urdu, English and other regional languages and NOT Arabic; 2: Pakistani men do not go around wearing 17th and 18th century headgear in markets;

3: The only Urdu heard in the film is from a group of wild-eyed men protesting against an American diplomat, calling him ‘chor.’ Chor in Urdu means robber. And the protest rally was against US drone strikes. How did that make the diplomat a chor?

4: And how on earth was a green Mercedes packed with armed men parked only a few feet away from the US embassy in Islamabad? Haven’t the producers ever heard of an area called the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad? Even a squirrel these days has to run around for a permit to enter and climb trees in that particular area.

I can go on. The following is what I have learned …

Read more » Pakistan according to Hollywood

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/01/31/zero-iq-thirty/

‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Our Little Worlds

By Saroop Ijaz

In a recent appallingly bad Hollywood movie, Pakistanis are shown conversing in Arabic, you know, because that is what ‘brown Muslim’ people speak. Rudyard Kipling, whose death anniversary passed a few days ago, has certainly not been forgotten. The movie is thoroughly unwatchable for multiple reasons. Yet, it does show the liberties that people will take with societies that they do not know or do not care enough to know. The film-makers did not need in depth research on the ground to know that Arabic is not the language of everyday chit-chat in Pakistan or Abbottabad is not exactly a 45-minute drive from Islamabad. (Although, on the language question, watching people dressed in Arab clothing and riding on camels on January 25, the particularly gullible can perhaps be cut some slack.) Basic Google search would have unravelled the mystery. Also, it shows that there are not many Pakistanis working in Hollywood. It is patronising and insulting when people make grossly inaccurate, generalised observations about us. Yet, it does not stop us from doing the same.

Continue reading ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

The Dönmeh heritage, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk & Modern Turkey

The Dönmeh: The Middle East’s Most Whispered Secret (Part I)

By Wayne MADSEN

There is a historical “eight hundred pound gorilla” lurking in the background of almost every serious military and diplomatic incident involving Israel, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Greece, Armenia, the Kurds, the Assyrians, and some other players in the Middle East and southeastern Europe. It is a factor that is generally only whispered about at diplomatic receptions, news conferences, and think tank sessions due to the explosiveness and controversial nature of the subject. And it is the secretiveness attached to the subject that has been the reason for so much misunderstanding about the current breakdown in relations between Israel and Turkey, a growing warming of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and increasing enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran…

Although known to historians and religious experts, the centuries-old political and economic influence of a group known in Turkish as the “Dönmeh” is only beginning to cross the lips of Turks, Arabs, and Israelis who have been reluctant to discuss the presence in Turkey and elsewhere of a sect of Turks descended from a group of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th and 17th centuries. These Jewish refugees from Spain were welcomed to settle in the Ottoman Empire and over the years they converted to a mystical sect of Islam that eventually mixed Jewish Kabbala and Islamic Sufi semi-mystical beliefs into a sect that eventually championed secularism in post-Ottoman Turkey. It is interesting that “Dönmeh” not only refers to the Jewish “untrustworthy converts” to Islam in Turkey but it is also a derogatory Turkish word for a transvestite, or someone who is claiming to be someone they are not.

The Donmeh sect of Judaism was founded in the 17th century by Rabbi Sabbatai Zevi, a Kabbalist who believed he was the Messiah but was forced to convert to Islam by Sultan Mehmet IV, the Ottoman ruler. Many of the rabbi’s followers, known as Sabbateans, but also “crypto-Jews,” publicly proclaimed their Islamic faith but secretly practiced their hybrid form of Judaism, which was unrecognized by mainstream Jewish rabbinical authorities. Because it was against their beliefs to marry outside their sect, the Dönmeh created a rather secretive sub-societal clan.

The Dönmeh rise to power in Turkey
Continue reading The Dönmeh heritage, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk & Modern Turkey

How a Paris Mosque Sheltered Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust

– Heroic Tale of Holocaust, With a Twist

By ELAINE SCIOLINO

PARIS — The stories of the Holocaust have been documented, distorted, clarified and filtered through memory. Yet new stories keep coming, occasionally altering the grand, incomplete mosaic of Holocaust history.

One of them, dramatized in a French film released here last week, focuses on an unlikely savior of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France: the rector of a Paris mosque.

Muslims, it seems, rescued Jews from the Nazis.

“Les Hommes Libres” (“Free Men”) is a tale of courage not found in French textbooks. According to the story, Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the founder and rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, provided refuge and certificates of Muslim identity to a small number of Jews to allow them to evade arrest and deportation.

It was simpler than it sounds. In the early 1940s France was home to a large population of North Africans, including thousands of Sephardic Jews. The Jews spoke Arabic and shared many of the same traditions and everyday habits as the Arabs. Neither Muslims nor Jews ate pork. Both Muslim and Jewish men were circumcised. Muslim and Jewish names were often similar.

The mosque, a tiled, walled fortress the size of a city block on the Left Bank, served as a place to pray, certainly, but also as an oasis of calm where visitors were fed and clothed and could bathe, and where they could talk freely and rest in the garden. …

Read more → The New York Times

Rasool Bux Palijo, a Politician, a Tactician & a Writer

Notes From My Memory, Part VII, By Mir Thebo: Rasool Bux Palijo, a Politician, a Tactician & a Writer

by Mir Thebo

In early 1960s, Rasool Bux Palijo and I were neighbors in Rosy Corner flats in Hyderabad. Those were very dirty pigeon hole flats in Tando Wali Mohammad area. Palijo lived on 2nd floor while I lived on the 1st. floor. Occasionally I went to his flat. He had no furniture and no proper bed in the flat. Palijo hated cleanliness. One could rather say that he hated regular life therefore he didn’t like well-dressed petty bourgeoisie people. He never cared about food. Shoes would be lying over the floor. He had good collection of books but they would be scattered all over the place. He didn’t like to live there so most of the time he remained outside.

By profession, he was a lawyer, a mediocre advocate at that because he was not interested in practicing law, although he was intelligent and had a logical mind. He had a small office in the Circular Building, which didn’t look like a professional lawyer’s office. He didn’t care much about these things. He was a good reader though. He read non-fiction, fiction and poetry books. He loved Shah Latif’s poetry. He was also an admirer of Shaikh Ayaz’s poetry. In later period, he disowned Shaikh Ayaz and his followers glorified Ustad Bukhari more than Ayaz but they were friends during 1960s. Ayaz also liked Palijo.

Palijo also read Urdu, Russian, Chinese, English and Arabic literature. He had good knowledge of history and international situation. He also had a good knowledge of the history of Sindh. He was great at appreciating someone. He will make you fly higher and higher until you reach the top of the world. He would say things that will make you wonder if you really possessed such ‘qualities’ as mentioned by Palijo. But if you disagreed with him, he will throw you in the dust mercilessly so much so that he will not allow you even to protest. He is a witty person with good sense of humor. He has good hospitality. He will serve you meals and every thing including drinks, etc. I have few chances to drink with him along with other friends. I never observed him out of control but he is careful not to drink too much with casual visitors.

Palijo was a Marxist at that time. I don’t know if he still is or has changed as many of us old Marxists have said goodbye to our once favorite ideology of Marxism. During my last meeting with him at his residence in Naseem Nagar in 2005, he came across as neither a Marxist nor a Maoist. He didn’t mention either of them in his analysis. He sounded like a populist Sindhi nationalist political leader.

Palijo is considered to be a great tactician but sometimes he is caught in his own tactics and faces failure. Many times he has stumbled and fallen down but he has good stamina to rise up again and start a fresh. He is very swift in changing tactics and at that moment he never cares about the principles. Any way lets talk of his life of the earlier period of 1960s. As a politician, you will see his glimpses many times in my memoir.

In 1960s, Palijo was General Secretary, National Awami Party (NAP), Hyderabad City. NAP at that time was the open united front of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) headed by Khan Abdul Wali Khan.

Continue reading Rasool Bux Palijo, a Politician, a Tactician & a Writer

When Gen. Zia imposed Arabic

by Dr. Masood Ashraf

The role of national languages in defining and articulating national identities is a hackneyed subject, but, somehow, the privileging of learning a sacred language has not been explored much in the debates on nationalism. In this brief article, I intend to draw attention to the rise of Arabic studies in Pakistan and its long-term consequences for the Pakistani public sphere.

In his 1983 book Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson provides three major causes for the waning of the pre-national empires and the rise of modern nation-states. One of the reasons, according to Anderson, was the rise of vernacular languages in place of what were considered the sacred languages, Latin and Arabic included. I have long maintained that Anderson misses the point as he only looks at the official use of these languages and not about the symbolic aspects of their power. In case of Arabic, for example, while it never was the official language of Muslim India, it still remains a language that wields immense symbolic power. …

Read more : ViewPoint

Remembering Jaun Elia a Marxist wirter and poet

Jaun Elia (Urdu: جون ایلیا, December 14, 1931 – November 8, 2002) was a notable Pakistani Urdu poet, philosopher, biographer and scholar. He was widely praised for his unique style of writing. He was the brother of renowned journalist and psychoanalyst Rais Amrohvi and journalist and world-renowned philosopher Syed Muhammad Taqi, and husband of famous columnist Zahida Hina. He was a man of letters, well versed in Arabic, English, Persian, Sanskrit and Hebrew.

Jaun Elia was born on December 14, 1931 in an illustrious family of Amroha, Uttar Pradesh. He was the youngest of his siblings. His father, Allama Shafiq Hasan Elia, was deeply involved in art and literature and also an astrologer and a poet. This literary environment modeled him along the same lines, and he wrote his first Urdu couplet when he was just 8.

Read more : Wikipedia

Nostagia at its zenith: A Trip to Sindh – A Journey to My Roots. Desh pehenjo visaaran dukhyo aa!

Courtesy: Following article has appeared in the ‘Femina’, ‘Bharat Ratna’, ‘Amil Samchar’ and in the Hindvasi (Translated into Sindhi)

A TRIP TO SINDH-A JOURNEY TO MY ROOTS

By Shakun Narain Kimatrai

Mid– 1986 – The Kimatrai Building still majestically stands in Hyderabad Sindh

We finally made it! To Hyderabad Sindh that is! My husband Narain and myself finally left on a trip that would make us set foot on the very soil that we had left 39 years ago.

When I told my Sindhi friends in Bombay that I was leaving for Pakistan, they showed a lot of interest-in fact more interest than had I told them that I was going to London, New York or to Timbuktu for that matter. But why was I surprised at their reaction? After all I was going back to the land of our birth, to the land and houses which we had left reluctantly with tears in our eyes and to which we had been denied access for so many seasons.

Those friends to whom I told about my trip to Pakistan, not only showed interest but a variety of emotions.

I sensed in them envy, apprehension and fear for my safety—as a matter of fact a friend of mine asked: “Going to Hyderabad Sindh, Shakun, are you sure you will be back?

Though I was a little apprehensive myself I was not really afraid. After all of whatever kind may have been the frenzy during partition-I had the confidence on the fact that we Sindhis having drank from the same Indus Sindhu water for centuries prior to the sad separating event, they would welcome us with the age-old ‘Sikka’ (affection) of the Sindhis.

From Bombay, we first landed at Lahore where the hotels are comparable to any other good 5-star hotel elsewhere in the world.

Whenever one goes out of India, one is midst strangers from a different land, so to speak-one looks different and talks a different tongue. While in Lahore, what struck me was that no-one could tell that I was a foreigner there-we looked alike and spoke the same language. Then why? Why did one have to go through customs and immigration at the airport like an outsider? I felt sad.

Amongst the elite, the ladies do not practice purdah as a rule. They wear salwar kameezes made in the latest style. The people of Pakistan enjoy good food, though alcoholic beverages are at least visibly absent.

My charming Pakistani hostess took me around sight-seeing and shopping and she proudly presented me everywhere around as her Indian friend from Bombay. Her friends and the sales people generally welcomed me warmly and even courteously gave me discounts on their goods.

Amongst the common citizens of Pakistan whom I met, I felt that there was competition with India as far as Economical progress or a game of cricket was concerned-which according to me is healthy and natural of any set of neighbors.

At a couple of parties that I attended and where my host learned that I enjoyed singing, they requested me, not to sing a ghazal or a film song, but a ‘Bhajan’! Is it possible that they subconsciously miss the Hindus and their culture in their midst?

I myself having lived in Bombay in cosmopolitan surroundings almost all my life, did feel rather restricted being surrounded by only Muslims in their country.

From Lahore we flew to Karachi from where it was a mere 2 hours drive to my birth-place Hyderabad in Sindh.

It was unfamiliar seeing the Arabic Sindhi script strewn all over on hoardings and advertisements and the milestones on the road ; though odd, the feeling was pleasant.

Once we approached Hyderabad I found my husband’s voice getting more emotional. He remembered the roads, as he was 9 years old when he had to leave his home-town. He instructed our friend who was driving to take us to a certain spot, to stop; after which he wanted to find the way up to his old house himself.

Continue reading Nostagia at its zenith: A Trip to Sindh – A Journey to My Roots. Desh pehenjo visaaran dukhyo aa!

Ayodhya Verdict: Musings of a Now Hardened Agnostic – By Yoginder Sikand

As neither a Hindu nor a Muslim, but, rather, now a hardened agnostic who suspects there is an invisible force behind the universe but is fully distrustful of all religions, I could not be bothered in the least if a temple or a mosque or a profane structure—or, indeed, nothing at all—is now to occupy the disputed spot in Ayodhya. As far as I know, the force that I want to believe exists and pervades the entire universe and beyond is supremely indifferent to who the new owners of the contested spot are to be. This force knows no distinction of religion, caste, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and so on and so forth. For all I care, you can smear your head with ash and fall flat in front of the toy-like idols that now stand on the disputed spot and mumble mantras in incomprehensible Sanskrit, or you can don a skull-cap and bend and bow while muttering phrases in Arabic of which you understand not a word if the mosque that once stood on the spot is reconstructed. The universal force I sort of suspect exists is, I know, supremely unaffected by what you do on that measly bit of earth. …

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Arabic influence on Italians

Tunisia music and Arabic influence on Italians

Most of the Arab countries are very moderate in their life and even religious thoughts. There is a reason for Arabs being moderate is that they historically have been more close to Europe than South Asian.

Most of the North Africa also shows same character. Tunis or Tunisia is also a forward-looking country. I haven’t visited it but I met some people from there and what they told me that due to the foreign (Italian) occupation influence and also due to their local culture Tunisians have been moderate people. Country is small and beautiful with beaches. People are very friendly and their major industry is tourism. Here is Arabic influence on Italians in the shape of Italian belly dance:

via – Munawar Ali and Mehran Valley