My latest book

My latest book to become available at Amazon, is my labor of love.  It began in 2008 and saw many rough seasons, despite winning a commendation certificate from the National Book Foundation in 2009.  It has finally made a debut in the public domain.

This book was initially written for the 13-16 age group.  It underwent major changes afterwards, however, the tone and style of writing have been maintained and hence it would hopefully appeal to all age groups.

It showcases the history of scientific innovations beginning from the ancients, mainly Greeks.  When the Greek world was overtaken by the Romans and thereafter when the Romans plunged into the dark ages from AD 400 to 1400, the torch bearers of knowledge were Muslims.  Muslims continued the tradition of knowledge and made amazing discoveries, invented mind boggling things and made a quantum leap in the sciences by inventing algebra and chemistry.  However, to every rise there is a fall.  The Muslim fell into their dark ages from 1600 and beyond when the west took over where it had left.  The book takes you through this ride in a very easy read.

If you do not know Byzantium, Babylon, or did the Greeks come before Romans or otherwise etc, worry not.  This book will explain in the easiest possible terms the flow of knowledge within civilizations.

Read it, review it, gift it and spread the word.  You owe it to science.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055IIGDK

Peace be upon you!

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CULTURAL IMPERIALISM

Six decades have passed since the independence of Pakistan.  A generation has grown up to reach middle age- a generation that never saw any traces of the colonial or the post colonial world.  However, true liberty is the liberation of the mind, thoughts and the psyche, which is still enslaved.

From the dying generation that breathed the colonial air to the globalised 20 or 30-somethings of today, none are really free to dream and to be proud in their own skin.  The English language still determines ones place in society and acts as a preservative of ossified values.

The core of America is distinguished by creativity and innovation and their can-do spirit is owed to a popular attitude of equal opportunity and fair play.  This was bequeathed by the founding father Bejamin Franklin.  Indians take pride in India thanks to Nehru’s Swadesh and Swaraj (self reliance and self rule).  Turks follow Attaturk, their founding father.  Pakistanis are lost as their founding father Jinnah lost his stature in a maelstrom of parochialism.

A Pakistan is divided into nations and within those nations into classes based on command over a foreign language.  Then it struggles with desperate poverty.  The divisions of race and the English language effectively hamper any progress that could have been hoped for.

The tiny minority that speaks English, gets educated in a western system is mentally enslaved to the hilt.  They hail Alexander as the greatest conqueror of the world.  So deeply conditioned is this mindset that the fact that he invaded their own land- when King Porus fought him- is entirely lost on them.  Napolean also rests as an enemy, a marauder in their psyche-not the least because he invaded Muslim Egypt- but because he challenged their former British masters.  Such is the system of western education which creates eager subjects of the now defunct raj.  We are unwitting and ignorant victims of intellectual and cultural imperialism of the highest degree.

The late Mustafa Akkad was iconoclastic in his attempt to make a film on Mohammad (saw).  His financier Adnan Khashoggi was a visionary Arab who was using his money to fight all forms of imperialism.  Khashoggi was painted as an arms dealer and silenced by the powers that be. But Khashoggi was one man, and one man can be silenced but a wave cannot be controlled.  We need a critical mass of self assertive revolutionaries who challenge the prevalent ideologies.

Our scientific legacy does not lie in ancient Greece and Archimedes but with Al-Khwarzimi who invented the Arabic numerals after importing zero from India.  Our bards are not Wordsworth and Shelley but Omar Khayyam and Rumi.  Our historical legends are the very real Mohammad bin Qasim, and not Achilles, a fictitious legend.  Our statesmen are not Abraham Lincoln or Churchill but Umar Farooq and Jinnah.  These and so many other names need to echo in our psyche through our own school text.  However, they find scant reference and we remain mentally enslaved as we admire foreign heroes-inadvertently despairing of our own.  Our school text needs to be re-thought to make it world-class where we can nurture the psyche of a sovereign state and not that of an enslaved mind.  We cannot shake out of our national inferiority complex till we do so.

The British created hurdles through permits and restrictions to systematically defeat the spirit of enterprise.  These systems have remained untouched since their departure.  Today the custodians of this nefarious system are the public sector employees who nurture it.  A very low rise glass ceiling is very concretely established hence for the entire business community.  Where then can we see an economic upsurge which can be an engine of growth?  No foreign expert or advisor can tell us what is good for us these are questions only we can answer just as Manmohan Singh found the answers for India.  But to find answers we must first battle parochialism and the lack of ethics.

Even the President of Pakistan gets meted third grade treatment because of our begging bowl.  If we re-think our mindsets, the resulting advantage would be economic and political muscle in place of a begging bowl.

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HISTORY IN SCHOOL TEXT

School text forms the psyche of a nation and ours has a conspicuous omission of history and an overdose of religion.  Our school text teaches pan-Islamism which Pakistanis have eagerly espoused but the concept of nationhood escapes us.  Ethnic and tribal loyalties have Pakistanis bitterly divided over language and race inspite of the Islamic message of brotherhood.  The nation state of Pakistan based on Islam never truly took root in the minds of Pakistan.

Unless we trace our history beginning from Mehrgarh and make sense of how we arrived as Pakistanis from our respective pasts, we cannot even reconcile on the notion of being one nation as Muslim Pakistanis.

Pakistanis trace their cultural and religious heritage from the Arabs as our school text conditions us to do so.  They look up to Mohammad, Umar, Ali, Ayesha and Khadija when they make sense of their socio-political identity.  The name their roads, hospitals, battleships after Khalid bin Waleed, the Islamic master strategist commander who remained undefeated in battle, a rare honor.  They look upto Arab scientists such as Jabir bin Hayyan and Ibn Sina of the eighth through tenth centuries when lamenting of their glorious past.  Iqbal, the national poet who heavily influences the Pakistani psyche, lived in a state of almost delusional militant yearnings of conquests of 1,300 years ago.  In his socio-political commentary Shikwa-Jawabe Shikwa, he refers to the Arabs as the “aaba” or ancestors of Indian Muslims.  This is a spiritual lineage and not a genealogical one, given that Pakistani Muslims are of mixed Indian and Central Asian blood.

Pakistan interestingly sits at a location that was the seat of the ancient pagan Indus Valley civilization.  The precursor of this great civilization took root in Mehrgarh in Balochistan and then onwards to the head of the empire at Harrapa and Mohenjodaro in Punjab and Sindh respectively.  Khyber Pakhtunkhua is equally blessed historically as the Ghandhara civilization was resident in Charsaddah all the way to Taxila.  Pakistan has a rich heritage and it is a very pagan heritage.

The whole world has persisted in paganism since after Adam.  If you look at the Mayans, the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Babylonians, you would see they all worshipped the sun.  Go to any archeological museum in the world and you would see idols of various shapes and sizes.  Idols were even exported e.g the  Greek god Adonis, who stands as a symbol of male attractiveness was the god “Baal” of the Phoenicians mentioned in the Quran w.r.t to prophet Ilyas in the Quran.  The premis of Islam is that prophets were sent to guide people to monotheism away from idol worship and nature worship.  Abraham is seen in the Quran first looking upto the sun as a god and later rejecting it as a god.  Abraham then tells his father to believe in the unseen God and reject idols.  He built the Ka’abah at Makkah circa 1800 BC but in circa 600 AD when Muhammad was preaching in Mecca, the Ka’aba that Abraham built, was a hotspot of idolatory as the annual pilgrimage attracted people from all over.  Mohammad was sent to Arabia to lead the Arabs from idolatory to monotheism.  Within a hundred years after Mohammad’s death the message had spread to India via Mohammad bin Qasim, to Roman Syria via Khalid bin Waleed, to Africa via Amr bin Al-Aas through his conquest of Egypt, and to Europe via Tariq bin Ziyad through his conquest of Spain.  Makkah was literally the centre of the world and Muslim conquests radiated Islamic monotheism to all corners of the then known world from it.  Islam thus spread in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Islam came to modern Pakistan via Mohammad bin Qasim in Sindh and Multan.  There were few Arab settlers in Sindh, the Muslim population resulted from reversion to Islam.  The other cities did not even begin to give up paganism to accept Islam till a good few centuries later.

The journey from paganism to Islam would also open our eyes to what in us is still antithetical to Islam.  Racism, honor killings, denial of basic human rights to females and religious minorities, serfdom in tribal areas, militant tribal customs, shrine worship and the caste system would all be clearly identified as unjust and unislamic.

However, even as we ignore ancient history.  Pakistan’s school history text does not even touch medieval Mughal history.  Studying the splendor-prone Mughals Emperors would give us profound lessons.  Their entire empire was defeated and humiliated by European invaders due to their weak statesmanship and their love of luxury.   Our national priorities can be redefined from the lessons learnt.

History gives us a sense of direction and resolves issues of greater identity.  We created Pakistan as a homeland for the Muslims.  However, the political ramification of this religious identity was lost on most of the indigenous people who constituted Pakistan since they were geographically removed from the mainstay of the independence struggle from the imperial Raj.  Existing at the peripheries of the empire the tribal cultures of Khyber Pakhtunkhua and Balochistan were far removed from mainstream India.  Even during the year that the Quaid was alive Khyber Pakhtunkhua’s Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan opposed Pakistan and in Sindh the removal of Khoro caused tribal disenchantment.  The narrative of the indigenous people was different from that of the founding fathers of Pakistan who hailed from UP, Delhi and Bombay.

Pakistan lost its Quaid in 1948 too soon to be able to develop a nation in the true sense under his charismatic guidance.  His Indian counterpart Nehru instilled a lasting deep sense of nationhood in Indians.  Boundaries were unsettled even in 1965 when Pakistan made a militant overture over Kashmir.  A few years later we lost our east wing, Bangladesh.  The 1971 political debacle was compounded by the attitude of the Pashtoon General Tikka Khan who ordered his simple minded soldiers that they needed to “purify” the people of Bengal by ravaging their women.  In Tikka Khan’s mind dark skinned Bengalis were not Muslim Pakistanis but Hindu Indians.  Tikka Khan did not think that he too came from pagan roots just like the Bengalis.  In any case atrocities meted out to anyone cannot be justified on grounds of the victims being pagan or non-Muslim “others”.  This concept of cruelty reserved for “the others” is part of the tribal code.  The very classification of “the others” for perpetrating atrocities is ipsofacto antithetical to Islam.  However, once it starts, it never ends and eventually comes full circle.

Even today this tribal mindset rules over religion, our reason d’être.

Muslims are a nation, much like the Jews.  However, we are in denial of our genealogical and geographic history, focusing only on a religious identity-ironically when that identity has failed to serve as a glue to hold the various ethnicities together.

Isreal is the only other state in the world that derives its reason d’être from religion.  However, the Zionists have successfully used religion to unite people by stressing upon the collective geographical history of the Jewish people where the narrative is of persecution.  The eviction from Canaan and Egypt, the Spanish inquisition, the ghettos in Europe, the Czarist pogroms and Hitler’s holocaust has been woven together to condition the collective psyche of world Jewry into unison and political action.  This fact alone has made a mere 14 million Jews a dominant race that controls the world through the United States corporations, government and media.

History has been murdered in Pakistan by Zia-ul-Haq.  It is high time we undo his damage to Pakistan and bring back the lessons of our real history into our collective psyche through our school text and public discourse.

Peace be upon you!

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200 YEAR OLD PATH OF IMPERIALISM

A strong military is a geo-strategic requirement for Pakistan, especially due to the fallout of the Afghan war.  The two hottest issues in Pakistan Are the operation that killed Osama bin Laden and the drone strikes which regularly kill people.  No matter if people blame the military for inaction till the cows come home, the fact is that Pakistan depends on others for its weaponry.  Be it China or US or France.  The US is militarily superior to China and Europe combined.  Pakistan a few weeks ago received an offer of 85 mini-drones used primarily for aerial photography.   We have no drones for aerial engagement and till we have them we can offer no resistance to any invader.  The first time our AirForce received UAVs was in 2007.  It is pathetic when on the one hand people diss the army for its budget allocation and then on the other hand they show anger at the weakness of the military.

Pakistan will spend only 17% of its budget on the military this year.  Arms penetration is quite deep within Pakistan and the rule of law is weak, additionally civil war has been rife in the northern areas.  In such a situation maintaining a high deterrence level is mandatory.  Pakistan cannot afford to be militarily weak.  The much touted argument of the social sector being neglected at the cost of the military budget is misplaced, given that debt servicing takes the biggest chunk of our budget.  Neglect of the social sector is due to a lack of political will to institute change.  Within the development budget the government can direct billions from road construction (primarily in Punjab) to education and public health in all provinces, especially Balochistan.

International donor loans have resulted in the phenomenon of the globalization of poverty.  The massive loans taken by Pakistan have not resulted in any socio-economic development.  Pakistan should declare a moratorium on taking further debt from IMF and other international lenders.  The infamous Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) promotes corporate interest at the expense of the poorest in the shape of shifting the service sectors of health, water and education from the public to the private domain.  Interestingly enough the electronic media moguls who never tire of bashing the military or the mullah are strangely silent on these issues.  Some of them are seen championing the cause of IMF conditionalities.

IMF loans have more than doubled from 23 bn in 1991 to 55 bn in 2011, a span of 20 years.  The Public Sector Development Program of the government which looks after public schools, hospitals and roads was halved from Rs 663bn in 2010 to Rs 385 bn in 2011, this has been raised to 730 bn (23% of the budget) for the current year 2011-12, which is heartening, but we have to see how its spent.  Defence spending is 495 bn (17% of the budget).  The biggest chunk of the budget however, is 790 bn to be spent on interest repayment and 243 on principal repayment.  This adds upto over a trillion rupees, more than one third of the budget.  Military expenditure remains less than half of the debt burden, a debt that lined the pockets of the ruling elite.  Yet no TV anchor or journalist or self-proclaimed intellectual raises a voice when the government keeps talking of the need for IMF loans.  Infact the fifth columnists within the media actually blame the ISI for hindering IMF loans through non-conformance.  Conformance as we have seen means privatizing water, healthcare and education amongst other lethal actions.

Pakistan should change its trajectory from the 200 year old path and focus on a unified long term economic vision, build a strong military and focus on furthering equitable and widespread socio-economic growth.  Currently the rulers are wealthy, the masses are poor and the military is weak.  Socio-economic issues are compounded by religion-which has been hijacked by fanatics or reduced to bizarre rituals.

We lament that the Muslim world is living through its dark ages etc.  Some of us blame colonialism for our ills.  Some sneer at those who look at the past and they cheer for democracy and a western style government.  Truth be told, we currently have a democracy but our socio-economic trajectory has not changed since the pre-colonial and independent era.  The fact of the matter is that we have followed the exact same path for 200 years.

Three great Muslim empires of Turkey, India and Persia ruled the world during the middle ages.  At the dawn of the modern world, they were in shambles.  Circa 1800 the fall of Nawab Sirajudaula at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and that of Tipu Sultan in 1799, sealed the fate of India for colonial rule.  The Qajar dynasty took over Persia from the Zand dynasty and within three years lost Georgia and the Caucuses to Russia in 1806 setting the stage for decline.  Contemporaneous Ottoman Turkey was the “sick man of Europe” and the reigning Sultan Selim III was deposed after the Janissary revolt.

Indian, Persian and Ottoman empires circa 1800 had some traits in common.  They were great patrons of high culture.  In Istanbul Sultan Selim III was known as “The composer” and he was also a member of the Mevlana order of the Whirling Dervish Sufis.  In India Shehenshah Akbar Shah II was a titular head but the pomp and glory of his seat was undiminished.  He too was a disciple of Hazrat Khwaja Quttubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki.   He started festival Sair-e-Gul Faroshan (Phoolwaalon ki sair)  and celebrated an annual “urs” of the deceased sufi saint.  In Persia Shehshah Fatah Ali’s reign was marked by deeply elaborate court culture, the upsurge of Persian arts and the famous Peacock throne.  He commissioned the Shahanshahnama to celebrate the battles with Russia- seemingly impervious to defeat.  He too was a great patron of Sufism-adorning shrines in Mashhad, Qum and Shiraz and reviving Sufism at large.

Sufism was a common thread that ran across the contemporaneous weak emperors of the three great Muslim empires.

Poetry, literature, music and the arts are the accoutrements of high culture.  All three empires displayed high culture but weak military capability, economics and statesmanship.  Their legacy has endured and hence literary culture in Persia and the subcontinent has flourished inspite of western imperialism.  Turkish culture was affected by policy decisions of Attaturk or else it would have been largely preserved.  Even today Iran and Pakistan create world class poetry and literature but are dependent on the western world for military and economic aid.  Statesmanship too escapes this region todate.  Shrines, urs and saint following continues unabated.

Direct colonial rule never existed over Persia and Turkey.  It ended in the middle of the 20th century for Pakistan and the former Ottoman colonies such as the Arab States.  However, neo-imperialism has very much been a painful reality for the Muslim states grappling with their new-found freedom.  Muslim imperialism over the Roman and Persian territories conquered circa 700 AD was relatively benign as it left the systems and structures intact.  It only exacted a poll tax from conquered territories.  Western imperialism destroyed the systems, structures and created proxy rule after independence.  The parting shot of our colonial masters was the creation of permanent faultlines through the Sykes Peacot Agreement in the Middle East and with Kashmir in Pakistan-nation states chalked out with tribes divided across territories creating permanent rifts.

Newly independent Muslim states thus inherited dysfunctional systems aimed to perpetuate a subject mindset as well as synthesized local elite with an obvious consequence of vested interests.  During the 1960’s when indigenous intellectuals were non-existent, economic planning was done with the help of USAID-an instrument of neo-imperial agenda.  Agricultural revolution included farm input revolution such as hybrid seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, as well as mechanical inputs such as tractors.  This paradigm shift in agriculture required greater financial strength to purchase these inputs.  Transportation mafias and loan sharks crippled the farmers.  Pre-partition Punjab provided food to the entire India but after the 1960’s reforms Pakistan has been food insufficient todate.  The agricultural base of our economy was destroyed hence.

Status quo in the form of a weak economy persists due to poor planning, a short term focus and political considerations ruling over long term national interest.  In India and the US, think tanks and policy institute shape the direction of economic and social planning, and a change in government does not drastically alter policy.  Pakistan lacks any such institutions and plans are employed and abandoned purely on political considerations, unmindful of the consequences.

Our ailments are centuries old.  History tells us to get military strong, make good economic plans of widespread growth and to employ religion for ethical conduct to become honest and scrupulous.  Without this, we would never break the vicious cycle of humiliation and subjugation.

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Muhammad’s wives

Muhammad the prophet of Al-lah (The God) is a man much maligned and misunderstood.

His wives remain shrouded in mystery and when they are discussed, it is done with a poor understanding of their personalities and the circumstances prevailing during the time of the marriage.

Abraham had a concubine and a wife who bore him a child and a prophet each; Ishmeal and Isaac.  Solomon had 100 wives and possibly concubines too.  Yet Mohammad’s wives remain the subject of ridicule and degradation.

Ayesha the third wife of the Prophet Mohammad is an intellectual giant of Islam, yet she is reduced to a child-bride of an aging Mohammad , which is highly unlikely as you would see in my book.   Ayesha and Hafsa the third and fourth wives set precedents within the Abrahamic traditions of women being entrusted with knowledge of the religion over and above their own illustrious fathers-men who later become Caliphs of the astonishingly expanding Muslim empire.

I have penned down an account of the wives of Mohammad, shedding light on their individual personalities and their relationship with their exalted husband.

The wives of Mohammad embody the spirit of womanhood in Islam.  The incidents of Mohammad’s household form a roadmap for the 1 billion Muslims in family life.  This book is thus a MUST READ for those who wish to understand how Muslim families live.

If youre in US You can buy my book from Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00548ALDO

You can also buy my book from Amazon UK and Amazon Germany.

Your feedback to my book would make it all worthwhile.

Peace be upon you!

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My trip to Greece

In October-November 2010 I undertook a two-week historical quest of Greece.  This was by far my best trip and it exceeded all my expectations.  Greece is vacation destination extraordinaire.  It has history, sightseeing, culture, shopping, breath taking natural beauty and the most wonderful people you could meet.

I have penned down a travelogue on these two-week of solo travel.  The travelogue would make an interesting read for those who wish to get a crash course in Greek history in the most engaging way with quirks of fellow travelers, Greek island tour, Athens guided tours by Greek Archeologists as well as snippets from Hollywood and the Olympics all coming together to bring alive ancient Greece.

There is  talk of history and it is linked to how history is juxtaposed with Globalization.

My travelogue has been published as an e-book and if youre in US you can buy it here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0054JJ11G

You can also buy it from Amazon UK and Amazon Europe.

Peace be upon you!

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