Friday, December 30, 2011
I am feeling tired & exhausted. Internal struggles to overcome your own weaknesses can be just as powerful, and painful as the external hostilities. There are the lucky ones who usually get what they want, but they are very few chosen ones & then there are those who can not even dream of success because they even do not know the meanings of success. The year 2011 is coming to an end, not that in the greater scheme of this Earth it really matters. If Pope Gregory would not have demanded this calendar then it could have been any other number. However, since we are measuring the passage of time with this scale therefore, I want to sum up the events which have personally affected me. Please stop right here if you do not want to read the stories of departures. For me it was the year of departures. 2011's first casualty was the departure of Akhtar Shah, a very sweet eternally depressed friend from 1950's who had a melodious voice, he did not know what mother nature has gifted him. Then there was Amin Khan another charmer who knew only how to smile, who never complained of poverty; after graduating from high school he accepted the job of a bank clerk until he retired. Even though we had known each other since 1950's but during the struggling days of 1960's & early 1970's he was with me in Dadu. Our company was well known to every one. Every one knew where to find us for an evening tea, all they had to do is to come to a tea shop located out of town, in Sindhi language we called it Kandoo ki Mandli. Kandoo was a young teenager who will bring us tea & we will watch Sindhi volley ball & chat about all kinds of thing. We knew our days in Dadu were numbered. Dark shadows of hatred were growing taller. We used to meet again for a long walk after our dinner & have some more tea at another place called Cafe De Qasim. We could not figure out why hatred was becoming stronger. We used to watch old Urdu movies & laugh so much that sometimes my cheeks will start hurting. One night we were returning after watching a movie & right behind us was one of our acquaintance, he did not like the comedy & expressed his discontent, we laughed & ignored his comments. The reason I remember him that well because a few years latter he was shot by a thug of PPP in the broad day light, he some how managed to get to the Police station & identified his killer. The killer was a rising star of PPP who won the seat of Pakistan Parliament(times of senior Bhutto). Our company was doomed from the beginning. I left Dadu in February of 1971 & got caught in the whirl winds of time which will take me to different places in different countries, and continents, I worked on land, offshore, in the deserts and the mountains. During the early part of 2011 I got a call from Mahfooz that Amin Khan left, I was saddened and consoled myself with some sad Urdu poetry, all the memories of good times came alive. Mahfooz himself was suffering from the heart ailment. He was a friend of friends; again I knew him since 1950's, we used to play cricket & go to Dadu canal to swim, and then he left for Karachi. I missed him very much, several years down the road I found out where he was. When I arrived in Karachi for my higher education then Mahfooz was again my weekend buddy. His elder brother always asked him why he could not go to college & get some education like I did. I guess Mahfooz did not care about the formal schooling. We used to watch movies, have snacks & sweet tea & after that I will catch a bus for Karachi university. For some strange reason neither back then nor today I ever thought I was more educated than these friends, therefore I never tried to choose a different circle of friends. I did meet some good friends in the university but I never abandoned my old circle. This year I did not hear from Mahfooz since April/May, I had an uneasy feeling until my niece told me in October that Mahfooz uncle has passed away. Another chapter closed, no more calls from Pakistan. Right around that time I got another bad news that Mr. Jobs left. Until then I did not know how much I liked Mr.Steve Jobs, my first computer was an IMac in bondi blue color, I took the delivery of that computer the day it went for sale. We were always getting the bad news about Mr. Job's health but I never realized that he will leave us so soon. I went to the local Apple store, the young lady who came to talk to me was surprised to know that I was such a big fan of Apple computers(she had seen many others) & Mr. Steve Jobs. We shared high five & some tears together. Last summer I met my ophthalmologist during the last week of July he thought my vision has slightly improved, he showed me his pictures of flowers & asked me what I think about Nikon as compared to Leica, I told him Nikon is a first class company whereas Leica is being run be arrogant brosses; he wanted to see my pictures during our scheduled appointment in December, when I was leaving he said he will pray for me; I was somewhat surprised at his kindness. A month latter my former departmental secretary came to my office & told me Dr. 'J' left a week after I saw him, I could not believe my ears. Why the year 2011 which started with these news should come to an end with a happy note? On December 18th I got the news that 'B' left, I had known him for decades when he was barely 20 years old. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer, cancer kept on jumping from his skin to his lungs & then to his brain. No cutting edge medical technology could save him & finally his journey ended. There is no room in my house, there is no place in my front & backyard where I cannot see his signature. When we met the first time it was for a repair job but as the time passed I called him for many other jobs, we became friends, we shared stories. I am still thinking why such a strong young man has to leave immediately after his 43rd birthday? Few months before he left a mutual friend brought a gentleman to my house, we had a friendly conversation & when they left I asked my wife how come 'R'(our mutual friend) has always ill friends; she was shocked & told me it was 'B' not a stranger! I will not forget that day ever, how the cancer has ravaged him that I could not recognize him. When I am closing for the year 2011 how can I not mention about my two daughters who also left us, first Brandee whom I rescued from the injuries she got in engine compartment of a car. Even though she belonged to friend who dumped Brandee on us, Nora took care of her; this gentle soul lived with us for almost 18 years, during her last days she will walk outside the house where some pigeons will be having their lunch but they will let her drink from their water bath. After a long protracted illness she decided to leave us in May. My second daughter who came to leave us was Salma whom I picked up from the roadside when she barely a few weeks old, she was just sitting there & crying; I had to bring her home. She was the bravest of all, one day my neighbors dogs got loose in my back yard, all of my cats ran up the trees, Salma did not, she just stood there looking at those yuppy things as if asking them what you idiots are doing in my yard? In August she lost her apatite, I kept on giving her apatite boosting pills, finally the pills quit working & she lost her battle in September. What a year it was!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
These words were written in response to a beliver's ideas. Thank you for taking time to give a different perspective, it was really kind of you to do so. I sincerely appreciate your convictions. I am not saying it fictitiously. 66 years of my life has taught me one lesson, i.e. do not try to win the arguments, just win the hearts. I never had any life jacket to throw in choppy waters to save some one. We as a human being some time speak using different frequencies. Of course, every one knows at am radio one can not listen to the fm stations. What is right & what is wrong? I am just a traveler in the darkness of night, perhaps I am blind so even if light appears I can not see the path. I have read a little bit of the history of science too; & the conclusion of my reading is that from Newton to Darwin they all wanted to learn about god by studying the nature. They came to a Y in their journey, some took one path & the others the second. I will dedicate the words of a mystic poet to you who said, demolish Caaba(the muslims holiest site), demolish temples; but never demolish a heart because that is where god lives. Respects, A. Qudus.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Please accept my apologies for not making my points clear. As I humbly wrote that we as scientists try to explain what we observe, not what comes to our mind (of course that is an other realm). Here is what I have learned:- We are not becoming wiser, only the collective wisdom of the mankind has increased. If we were becoming wiser with the passage of time we could easily explain Pythagorean theorem or the concept of ‘special relativity’ or general relativity, after all these are century to millennium old ideas. Light takes 100,000 light years to cross our Milky way galaxy (velocity of light 186,000 mps) & we do not know how many galaxies are there. All we can see is up to 13.7 light years, what is beyond that can be any ones guess. One of my student asked me what is beyond our universe? My response was I do not know, perhaps another Universe or nothing at all. She tried to drag me into a religious sphere saying, do you know there are no atheist in fox holes? I had been not into any foxhole but I have seen death very closely in some fatal wreck or guns in my face; during those incidences the only thoughts come to my mind were, I will find out how the air bags are going to work; or how much pain the bullet will inflict. As a geologist I have found out that our sun is at least second or third generation star from the time of inception of this Universe, otherwise we would not have 90+ elements. And without many of these higher elements life could not have started. And when it got started as a single non nucleated cell about 4 billion years ago(it will take me 128 years of non stop counting to reach the number of 4 billion), it got to our level in that much time. Only a few thousand years ago we have started talking coherently & when we go around the globe we see so many different groups with so many different ideas that they could not be coming from one source. So why the Almighty one will keeps us wandering; if after these billions of years we could not get a unified message what should make me think I will find the answer during next billion years? By the way even if I live that long the human race will not, give or take few million years our offspring will be totally different. Just look at the fossils of Genus Homo which are only 2 million years old. We evolve, we adapt or perish. I can end the current dialogue again with an Urdu sonnet, what exists here is what we believe. I am yet to know a scientist who tries to convert someone’s beliefs. It will be disservice if I ever try to take some one out of their comfort zone. And yes I feel even less than a puny in the larger scheme of this known part of the Universe.
Friday, November 4, 2011
A tribute to Mr. Jobs. Like many others Mr. Jobs earned my respect by overcoming the odds. He taught fellow mankind to be different & innovative. Finding yourself is the best thing you can do. His life tells us about the short time we live on this Earth, he used every second of his 56 years in such a way that he has become immortal. We take 'time' for granted & waste it all the time. Life is an illusion whereas death is a reality however, we ignore the reality & emphasize more on ethereal life. Very few of us think about leaving a legacy. October 2011 was a long month we saw 2 lives coming to an end, for one, millions of eyes were teary, for the other it was a time of celebration( personally I do not think any ones death should be a cause of celebration, it should be a lesson but the history tells us that lessons are seldom learned).
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
One day (I do not when !) my readers will find it interesting that a search for Hallaj through Google will bring them to my site, however Yahoo will take them to more widely published well known sites dedicated to Hallaj. To keep the record straight I will like to call Hallaj as Husain Hallaj not Mansour Hallaj as most of the writers do, This great person was son of Mansour & His name was Husain. A search from any good encyclopedia will make my point clear.While I am still trying to read about Hallaj & acquire His work my feeling is that He was not an orthodox Muslim, as a matter of fact He may not fit the portrait of a Muslim at all. Therefore, calling him Hazrat, & portraying Him like a Muslim sufi may be a wrong approach. Husain Hallaj expressed his feelings about Love in a way like no one ever did. what He found from His search of truth took Him to the butchers block. Many 'prominent Muslim scholars' of His time & the times after Him believed He deserved the punishment He got. Hence, it will be unfair to lump Him with other Muslims. Unlike Muslims who believe Islam means submission, Hallaj took a different path. His ideas about humanity, love, and self consciousness makes Him a secular humanist, and these views even today may be considered sacrilegious to orthodox Muslims. Therefore, while others may try to drag Him into mainstream Islam, I will always remember Him as a great human being who sought Truth which sat Him free.
This message from Hallaj was posted as a first note. Vagaries of the cyberspace made it disappear, or perhaps Hallaj has to learn little bit about the 21st century. Here are some words for those who are the seekers of truth. A quote from Hallaj sufi master is"Those who know do not speak, and those speak do not know". What is the purpose of hiding the truth?
Thursday, October 6, 2011
PART TWO: Dear Readers, I read the interview of the late Benazir Bhutto in the Parade magazine dated January 6, 2008 with a lot of interest. It was done weeks before her death. And I would like to make some comments about the statements Ms. Bhutto made. On page 7 she mentions that when she was in Dubai "she has only God" a very amusing statement indeed. Was she living in a tent on some sand dune & survived by eating dates? Yet deeper into the interview we find that she hired Hillary Clinton's image maker Mark Penn, while her children were going to some prestigious schools like Oxford, but during this time she did not have any bank account or a credit card? If I was Gail Sheehy, I would of course, have asked that which God Ms Bhutto was worshipping? This God must be very generous and more powerful than the God of Christians, Muslims, Jews, or Hindus, I will worship that God 10 times a day or as many times as He will ask me if he'd pay my bills! I remember when I was going to school here in the USA I ended up with a debt of $40000.00, it took me several years to pay off that debt. If there is anyone out there who knows this god of Benazir Bhutto let me know. When Gail asks about the $1.5 billion Benazir siphoned from the Pakistani government, she does not deny the charge, rather she points her finger towards six other companies in Pakistan which also committed this crime! As if it were the right thing to do-to steal from a poor country. You the people of Pakistan, why you are not asking this question that which are those companies, and why they are not being prosecuted? Mr. Imran Khan of Justice Party will you just chase the mirage of being prime minister of Pakistan one day or would you rather go for some noble cause, here are some suggestions : Expose the crooks in Pakistan from your Party's platform, and try putting some teeth into the land reform acts of Pakistan so that we can get rid of these feudal lords. These people are eating Pakistan like termites. An average Pakistani is so gullible or helpless that she/he can not do any thing about it but Mr.Khan you have some power, exercise it. Remind the people of Pakistan that all these feudal lords are the descendants of those traitors which collaborated with our former Masters, the British. Should the payments of the acts of treason be kept in modern Pakistan as the trophies? There is something else which also bothered me tremendously that Ms Bhutto insulted the Pakistani military by saying that she "will allow NATO forces in Pakistan"(itimplies that the Pakistani Military is not capable of catching the criminals. Hundreds,of Pakistani soldiers have lost their lives, and have caught more militants than any other forces of any other country. If NATO is that efficient then how come Mullah Omar is still roaming around in Afghanistan?) Ms. Bhutto shamelessly indicates that she wants to return to Pakistan, I see several wrong things here, first that she did was breaking the constitution by twisting the arm of the hapless Mussharaff. Then showed the ambition to become the prime minister of Pakistan for a third time. Who gave her the power to break the Pakistani constitution under which she took oath twice and both times screwed her country?Second- that she would allow foreign soldiers to enter in a sovereign country. This also leads to another question that when the number one enemies of the USA were holed up in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan then why was the Chief commander of the US forces sitting thousands of miles away and not where the action was taking place? Why did he not order the American forces to get the enemies? That general retired honorably and was never questioned for this gross act. He recently sold his name to a questionable company that was supposed to be a benevolent charity for veterans. Did he just see the dollar signs or did he investigate this company-or like the war did he "phone it in"?
Jan 2008 part one Dear Readers, As it always goes that there are three reactions to any event, positive, negative, or indifference; you will be choosing your position very soon. Despite its poverty, and precarious situation Pakistan has been leading the geopolitical debate for quite some time. As if its plate of troubles was not full enough, Pakistan got another blast about on 27 December 2007. She is in the headlines again for another act of infamy. With horror I opened the news channel on December the 27th. just to see that the one of the most pivotal figures from the political scene of Pakistan has been eliminated, it was shocking but hardly surprising; a country where thousands of Pakistani soldiers and innocent people have been killed, where one Prime minister was assassinated, where another Prime minister was hanged, where an army dictator was blown-up in the sky along with the American Ambassador( American silence on this matter is very curious, especially since now some American politicians are asking for an international inquiry for the killing of a Pakistani citizen; was there any demand of this kind back then?), there had been killings of many intellectuals along with several attempts to assassinate for the current head of state. I was in horror until the reality of this tragedy started sinking in; when I got more detailed news of this tragedy, I did what many other people from my former homeland did, I cried and cried for that brave lady who did not deserve this fate (neither did those who have lost their lives for the cause of those demons who have been trying to destroy this poor country since 1947, just a footnote here that even Mahatma Gandhi lost his life to save Pakistan from going into bankruptcy, there was no United Nations to help the poor immigrants of Pakistan and India). After my tears dried, the on going process of soul searching restarted, my memory took be back to the time when Pakistan was about to implement its constitution and an army dictator( General Ayub Khan) took over. One of his protege was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who will later establish Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the constitution was thrown away and a downhill spiral started, then came the the fateful year of 1965 when Pakistan and India had their first military confrontation. Thousands of innocent Pakistani & Indian lives were lost again because the General thought that a few ill equipped freedom fighters will drive out the occupiers of Kashmir -the well trained & well entrenched Indian army! The adventure spread beyond the borders of Kashmir a few weeks later both sides stopped after exhausting their resources. Pakistanis were told that they have won the war. Interestingly neither the UN, nor the USA, nor the UK(who actually was at the root cause of this mess at the time of the independence) intervened; it was the USSR which invited the head of states of these miserable nations. What the deal for settlement was never fully disclosed; the confidence of Pakistanis was breached in the General and his 'brave army' . Mr. Bhutto was the foreign minister by this time and being an intelligent person he decided to abandon the slowly sinking ship of the General. But there was still fear of fading General that Bhutto could not find a political platform. At this point the brave students of Karachi University( the students had a long history of being politically active and paying the price for that) invited Bhutto to a public gathering hall, I happened to be a participant, more than forty years of dust has clouded some of the details of his speech, but one most important theme is reverberating as strongly today as it was back during the late sixties, Bhutto somehow found the right mantra to brain wash the Pakistani's which he will repeat countless times, readers, the mantra was that in Tashkent a secret deal was made to convert the success of Pakistan into a failure, & he promised to tell that secret deal when the right time will come. Millions of Pakistanis took the bait and General was sacked by another Pakistani general named Yahya Khan who was probably an honest and truthful person (unfortunately his weaknesses were whisky and women-I liked him for for all what he was). He promised a fair and honest election and honored his words. Bhutto was the best opportunist & he became the drinking buddy of Yahya Khan. Elections were held in 1970, the results were some what expected, in East Pakistan the Awami league won with a landslide victory; Mr. Bhutto's PPP came a distant second (although in West Pakistan it had the lead); he refused to accept the result of the election and suggested the most bizarre concept that Pakistan should have two Prime ministers. Pakistan went into turmoil, East Pakistanis who were tired of the military junta (mostly composed of Punjabis from the West Pakistan) started demonstrating, the peaceful demonstrations took an ugly turn very soon; this was the golden opportunity for India to punish Pakistan and cut it in two. Indian lead East Pakistani freedom fighters, who were able to defeat the four divisions of the demoralized Pakistani army. By now these fighters were known as Mukti Bahni and East Pakistan was declared as Bangladesh. Some how the Pakistani army was treated under the Geneva Convention, two of my personnel friends were among the prisoners, one chose to correspond with me. Several years down the road they were eventually released, when I questioned him, why out of all the relatives and friends, why he chose me to write the letters(they were allowed to write only 2 letters per week), his response was that he thought that some day I will do something about this tragedy using my pen (he is gone but I am paying that debt today). I have to bring you the most gruesome tragedy of this all, there were literally millions of Pakistanis of non-Bangali origin who supported the Pakistani military as their patriotic duty against the foreign infiltrators, they did not have any protection of the so called Geneva convention, literally hundreds of thousands of them were hacked to death in the streets of Bangladeshi cities, their ladies were rapped and sold to the brothels across the country and across the border. I have yet to know any figure of international stature to condemn these barbaric acts. Of course the western rock groups who had a sympathy concert for Bangladesh and Ted Kennedy never said word condemning these atrocities(Kennedy wanted to visit Pakistan but was denied the visa, because just like today's Democrats of the USA he has an open mouth but closed ears and eyes. I am yet to solve this mystery that why the Democrats of the USA can not see the true picture of that part of the world, do they have some pay masters who ordered them to do so? I would really like to see the face of that Pay Master to whose tunes these puppets dance.) Well the times changed, and now came the time of poetic justices( it is possible that they may sound cruel to you) ; The Bangla Bandhu (Shaikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman) was slaughtered by his own military, and the bodies of his family members were scattered on the steps of the presidential palace to rot, it happened within the few years of separation. In West Pakistan the things took a slightly different turn. The disgraced Yahya Khan was deposed and died in obscurity and his drinking buddy Zulfiqar became the president of Pakistan he also named a junior general Zia ul Haq as the chief of staff of the Pakistani military (so that he can gain his loyalty); he declared himself as the administrator of martial law (another first for a civilian ruler with no shame). Bhutto considered himself the ultimate ruler he thought that he got the bull by his horn. Newspapers were shut down for just publishing the news of the other parties( my sister was working for one of them). Opposition party leaders were arrested, some of them were brutalized by ruthless criminals in those jails, leaders of Jama-at-Islami should take note before siding with the PPP. A commission was named to find the root cause of this tragedy, it was headed by a Justice named Hamood ur Rehman. The commission failed miserably in pin pointing the cause that "Bhutto was a traitor who caused the division of Pakistan, and PPP was equally responsible in this act of treason". Dear readers, please think what should have been the fate of these criminals? In Pakistan when some women relatives of stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh went on a peaceful demonstration the horse riding police in Karachi ran over them. This was the turning point in my life, I was totally demoralized, ashamed and felt so helpless that I decided to leave Pakistan, it was not a cowardly decision, it was an act of desparation, this was not the Pakistan for which Muslim league struggled since 1906. In the mean time the wheels of times kept on turning and the assasination of the one opposition leader's father came to haunt Mr.Bhutto, he was deposed by his own general and sent to the gallows, probably there could not have been any more cruel and poetic justice than this, that the two main culprits met their fate within a decade of breaking apart Pakistan. As they say rest is history, the daughter of Mr.Bhutto started leading the PPP and the naive Pakistani sent her to the Prime minister's house twice, both times this "champion" of democracy was thrown out on the charges of corruption. What goes around comes around.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
A hiatus of almost 1200 years has kept Socrates, Mansour Hallaj, & us apart, I heard about these great thinkers when I was growing up, despite of their tragic ends, Hallaj's characterhas always intrigued me more because I heard from some orthodox Muslims ' do not follow Hallaj, but do not say bad words about him'. While Socrates remain as a brave philosopher from the bygone era who was forced to drink hemlock for his deeds but the tragedy of his end does not come any where close to Hallaj's. I was not taught any thing about these scholars during my school days but they remained as a part of revered memories in my thoughts. During one of my trips to Athens I tried to find the Socrates prison under the acropolis, either I read the map wrong or the information was incorrect, all I could find a small cave under a steep cliff, recently reading the account of Socrates last day in the prison this could not have been the place. That is beside the point, while Socrates drank the poison in a very luxurious way(if there is any thing luxurious about death) Mansour encountered his fate in the most barbaric way a person can think, yet he is hardly known or praised for his courage except for a few. Recently while reading a book about Socrates by Xenophon I noticed another interesting correlation between Socrates when he describes some counsel from a "divine voice" which he called Demon and another thinker Sarmad(Sufi master of Dara, Aurangzeb's elder brother) who justified his acts by saying ' Shatan quavi ust( Satan is strong)'. Sarmad encountered the same fate as of the other two although not as brutal as that of Hallaj. I wonder why so little information is available on Mansour Hallaj. I will definitely like to read the original writings of Hallaj.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
I am extending an invitation to those who are the seekers of truth to join me on these pages. This is strictly a secular site & even though the memories of some martyrs have inspired me to start this blog but I will never advocate any kind of violence from these pages. As long as we stay civil the dialogues will continue....