The Sect-less Religion

Christianity, a beautiful religion spread by the labor of love and kindness by Jesus PBUH had been a source of identity for over a billion people around the world. His life was filled with sacrifice, compassion, and healing for the downtrodden. After his demise, avarice crept into his teachings and what was meant to be the veil for the bodies of unkempt, draped the lowliest of the clergy with finest of the silk.

One of the greatest books on psychological and dehumanising effects of colonization on colonial people is Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth”. Book published in 1961 in french with the title Les Damnés de la Terre.

Jean Paul-Sartre himself took the pains to write an excruciating and self-immolating preface for the it. Amidst his critique of colonization and French brutality in Algeria he notes the symbiotic relationship of the Church and the Armies. While the white man encroached the lands of what Fanon calls “lumpenproletariat” of Marx, the Church ratified not only its actions but convinced the natives of a divine legitimacy for all this. Jesus PBUH would bless their souls if they died working for the ‘intelligent race’. Franz speaks of it in these words:

“I speak of the Christian religion, and no one need be astonished. The Church in the colonies is the white people’s Church, the foreigner’s Church. She does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor. And as we know, in this matter many are called but few chosen.”

Ironically, about the same time Spanish Armada was on its way to bring triumph and plata back to the country, Christianity was at the crossroads of a reformation not very far from it. Martin Luther having witnessed the corruption of clergy in Rome had reneged as the priests of his time proclaimed.

The largest denomination of monolithic Christian faith would become a story of past and from it unstoppable branches would sprout forth. It would burn the Europe in centuries to come through protestant and catholic wars.

It is no wonder today that there is a clear bifurcation between the Christian world. After the irrelevance of Jewish faith and its restrictive admission criterion excluded the aspirants of salvation, Christianity was the only dominant religion throughout the world. Post-Lutheran downfall has reduced it into people alienated from religion altogether and the other lot struggling with finding the right sect. Science-based delusion carried many towards atheism and rest of them embroiled themselves in complicated discourses on variant readings of the Bible.

What Christian world has perceived to be its arch enemy, Islam despite its religious tolerance, magnanimous treatment of its Christian and Jewish subjects, has always been a source of discontent for it. A big portion of it comes from the early apocryphal writings of ecclesiastical writers and their misinformation and fiction about state of Christian subjects in Ottoman Empire, distortion of history about it in Prophet PBUH’s times and ISIS in modern times.

This ‘civilization’ project of Muslim world, whose cumbersome responsibility lies on the ‘civilized’ white Christian world, has been going on for quite some time and surprisingly not in a very different way than the early colonial churches.

Hoya Paxa: A Blog about Interfaith Service and Peacebuilding (inspired by Georgetown’s spirited campus cheer “Hoya Saxa!” to emphasize pax, Latin for “peace” published an article by Harshita Nadimpalli on intefaith dialogue in Pakistan. Semitic religions apart from Islam see each other with deep distrust if not aversion for having stolen their authority.

Christian-Jewish enmity has lasted for centuries which needs no proves. Islam on the other hand not only acknowledges both of them but also makes it a part of faith to revere them.

Now what type of inter-faith harmony can there be between people who call each other charlatans? If the idea comes out of secular humanism, then we don’t need a religious nomenclature for this pantomime because world doesn’t seem to fair well with the enlightenment ideas if not worst. Can it be the usual suspect that Christian missionaries in its quest of civilization this time wants Islam to follow its sorrow trajectory of apologetic inversion as Foreign Policy magazine recently suggested?

Hoya Paxa, published another post by another Hindu writer, on persecution of Ahmaddiya Muslims around the world. Article is filled with false facts, distortions, lack of knowledge and sincerity. Now if this is peace building and promotion, could it be construed that interfaith dialogues are promoting Islamic sectarianism?

Apart from the technicalities, how hilarious does it sound, when a Jewish writer speaks to Muslim audiences on deep issues of Islamic faith and holds a Ph.D in Islamic studies from notorious schools like SOAS? Why doesn’t that knowledge bring him over to the true faith?

Islam has no sects. Allah has decreed his injunctions upon the people and given them two paths to choose from. The option of believing and not believing. Islam or Kufr. There is no compulsion in it. Quran Says


“ وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِفَلَا اقْتَحَمَ الْعَقَبَةَ”

“We showed him two paths. But he has not attempted to pass on the path that is steep”

Sects emerge when people follow their whims instead of the Sunnah. Intolerance is the result of avarice, not religion itself. There is hardly anything that has not been made clear in Quran, as it states in it. Let us go back to Prophet PBUH’s life and his words as for the enemies Allah has promised to take care of that for us.

يمكرون و يمكر الله و الله خير الماكرين

Independent mission crucial to assess situation in Kashmir

UNITED NATIONS: UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein has raised concerns over the deteriorating situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir and emphasized the need to establish an independent, impartial and international mission to assess the situation.

He also regrets India’s lack of response to his request for access to its controlled part of the disputed state.

He told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council that he received a letter from the Government of Pakistan on Sept 9 formally inviting a team from his office to visit Azad Kashmir but only in tandem with a mission to the Indian side.

He said that he is yet to receive a formal letter from the government of India.

While delivering remarks at the opening session of HRC on Tuesday, he said that two months ago, he requested the agreement of the governments of India and Pakistan to invite teams from my office to visit both sides of the Line of Control: in other words, the India-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

“We furthermore received conflicting narratives from the two sides as to the cause for the confrontations and the reported large numbers of people killed and wounded. I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides,” he said.

The top UN official also said that they continue receiving reports of Indian forces using force excessively against civilian population under its administration.

The Indian government has been coming under growing pressure over the level of casualties in the region during protests against Indian rule, which broke out after the death of a popular rebel leader on July 8 during a gunbattle with soldiers.

More than 70 civilians have been killed and thousands injured in the worst violence to hit the territory since

Six key things to know about Apple’s new iOS 10 software

CUPERTINO: Your iPhone will look and feel different with the iOS 10 software update. It will be easier to move around and do more without switching apps, but the changes will take getting used to.

The changes are the most dramatic since 2013, when Apple redesigned icons and introduced functions with swipes from various edges.

Now, new things happen when you swipe, and you can handle more tasks from the lock screen. If you aren’t prompted for the free update Tuesday, go to “Software Update” under “General” in the settings.

Once you get it, here are some things to know about using it.

New gestures

Swiping up from the bottom edge still gets you the Control Center with quick access to the flashlight, airplane mode and other frequent functions. But it’s now split into multiple screens.

Once Control Center is open, swipe to the left to get audio and video controls. Swipe left once more to control lights and other accessories through Apple’s HomeKit automation system.

From the lock screen, you used to be able to access the camera by pulling up from the bottom right corner. Now, you swipe left from the right edge.

Swiping down from the top edge still gets you recent notifications, but your widgets and calendars have moved. Now, you get those by swiping right from the left edge. Those widgets join app and news recommendations that were already there.

More from the lock screen

The screen now turns on automatically when you lift your phone. You can do much more from the lock screen, such as viewing a photo from a friend or listening to a voice message.

Tapping the home button with fingerprint ID will unlock the phone, but won’t necessarily get you the home screen. It will allow greater access to messages and other notifications from the lock screen, but you need to press the home button again to get to all your apps.

Communications

The Messages app has been redesigned to offer more expression options. After you type your message, hold the blue “up” arrow. You can give the message a “loud” effect, so that it briefly appears huge to the recipient.

“Invisible ink” hides the message until the recipient rubs a finger over it. (It’s not meant for security, though, as there’s no extra passcode once the phone is unlocked.)

If you’re sending a message to an Android phone or an iPhone without iOS 10, the recipient won’t see the desired effect, but rather a note such as “sent with Loud Effect”.

You can send animated doodles (hit the heart icon) and handwritten notes (turn your screen horizontally), though recipients without compatible phones will see a static image.

Meanwhile, if someone sends you a link, you’ll see a preview rather than a link, similar to how it appears on Facebook feeds.

App integration

The Messages app now has its own app store to get additional functionality, sometimes for a fee. Just hit the “A” icon above the keyboard.

As you discuss dinner plans with friends, for instance, you can have OpenTable slide up from the bottom without leaving Messages. Suggest a few places and times so friends you’re chatting with can vote and make a reservation right from Messages.

Maps, meanwhile, adds support for restaurant reservations and ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft. A new tab called “Ride” appears alongside “Drive,” “Walk” and “Transit”.

Siri now works with third-party apps for messaging, ride hailing, workouts, photos, internet calling and payments services.

Notably missing is compatibility with music apps such as Spotify, a rival to Apple Music.

Redesigned apps

The interface for Maps has improved. A prominent button for “Directions” appears once you type in a destination. You can slide the card up for basics such as phone numbers and Yelp reviews.

This used to require an extra tap or two. As you’re traveling, you can tap on the bottom strip to find gas stations, restaurants and other businesses along your route.

For drivers, there’s now an option to avoid tolls, matching Google Maps.

The new Mail interface takes adjustment. The most recent messages are now at the bottom rather than the top. In the past, you chose messages in a thread individually.

Now, it’s a single stream — so be careful when replying to make sure it’s going to the intended recipient.

And if an alarm goes off while you’re using the phone, it appears as a notification up top rather than block what you were doing.

Swipe the notification away to snooze, or pull down and hit “Stop” to get rid of it.

Dozens of tiny discoveries

The Clock app’s new Bedtime feature encourages you to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

The flashlight on the Control Center lets you adjust brightness if you have an iPhone 6S or 7. Just press hard on the icon. Other models don’t have this 3D Touch capability.

And the Photos app has more options for searching and viewing highlights.

Food Stories: Punjabi Mutton Masala

Eid-ul-Azha brings with it flavours of red meat, and although white meat holds much significance as the healthy meat of choice for many, no meat holds a candle to mutton and lamb made right.

My first recollection of Bakra Eid celebrations (Eid-ul-Azha) is from the month of October, a time alive in the memory bank from the wonderful era of the seventies; I was a youngling and listened fascinated as my father relayed the glorious religious history that marks the blessed event we celebrate today.

Being the youngest, at the time, I tagged along with my father and vividly remember buying a goat for Rs. 700, a beautiful tall muscular animal that was to be pampered until the morning of the qurbani (sacrifice), and then enjoyed as delicious family lunch.

The magic of meat and masala

In the city of Peshawar, and its surrounding areas, meat rules as it does in all the other provinces of Pakistan. Historically speaking lamb and goat meat (mutton) has always been a favoured meat of south Asia, middle east, central Asia, and the Mediterranean.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook, written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, says the following about lamb and goat meat:

Before chicken, lamb and mutton were the key meats in the Palestinian diet. Shepherds were prevalent all around the hills when we were children, and still are now, although to a lesser extent. Lamb is slaughtered on special occasions and is a sign of celebration – births, weddings, return of a family member – and religious holidays, such as Easter and Eid-ul-Azha (festival of sacrifice or “Greater Eid”).

It is believed that the ruling Mughal’s hearty appetite for beef, lamb and goat clashed with the dietary habits of many of their subjects in the sub-continent, and their cooking of meat lacked in spices and was succulently cooked in its own juices, that of exotic fruits and fragrant spices, such as saffron and fennel. However the people of the plains enjoyed cooking their foods, meats and vegetables, in a host of spices, giving it a depth and flavour like none other.

The trinity of turmeric powder, cumin, and coriander seeds is certainly the most popular spice combination - Photo by Fawad Ahmed
The trinity of turmeric powder, cumin, and coriander seeds is certainly the most popular spice combination – Photo by Fawad Ahmed

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, edited by Andrew F. Smith, says the following about usage of masala in Punjabi cuisine.

Spices are an integral part of the Sikh-American (Punjabi) diet. Cooks have their preferences based on personal taste but the trinity of turmeric powder, cumin, and coriander seeds is certainly the most popular and is usually sautéed with the aromatics. There are at least twenty-five spices that are used often, and the world famous Punjabi mixture called garam masala is most often used in the preparation and cooking process. Traditionally, the spices are warmed in ghee (clarified butter) and form an important culinary influence of the ancient Ayurveda (science of life).

Lizzie Collingham, a historian, opines;

The consumption of meat was associated with strength and valor. It was considered that environmental essences contained in the soil were transferred from plants and then into herbivores, which in turn were eaten by carnivores. Each transference created a more powerful distillation of essences. Meat was thus the most intense of foods.’

Punjabi Mutton Masala

Punjabi Mutton Masala - Photos by Bisma Ahmed
Punjabi Mutton Masala – Photos by Bisma Ahmed

Punjabi Mutton Masala is a meat dish, simple and fabulous all at once. Small cubes of lamb or goat are cooked in whole garam masala, onions, tomatoes, green chillies, salt and preferably animal fat. The fresh meat is thought to provide the fat base for the cooking, and is meant to be savoured directly from the wok or pot it is cooked in with a side of hot naan.

My two favourites every Eid-ul-Azha were namkeen gosht, for this was made just once a year with the fresh meat of the qurbani ka bakra (sacrificed animal), and the special karahi gosht made by my father, and I can add a third to the list, namely mutton masala/bhona gosht. The recipe I share with you is my own; here it is, celebrating Eid-ul-Azha from my kitchen to yours.

Ingredients

Punjabi Mutton Masala is cooked in whole garam masala, onions, tomatoes, green chillies, salt and preferably animal fat - Photo by Fawad Ahmed
Punjabi Mutton Masala is cooked in whole garam masala, onions, tomatoes, green chillies, salt and preferably animal fat – Photo by Fawad Ahmed

2lbs mutton, small cubes

Oil to taste

1 black cardamom, 5 to 8 peppercorns, 1 cinnamon sticks, 2 bay leaves, 5 cloves

3 chopped onions

4 to 5 medium sized tomatoes

Ginger and garlic, fresh, 1 tsp. each

Pinch of turmeric

Red chili powder and salt to taste

1 cup yogurt

1 tsp. coriander powder

½ garam masala

Chopped green chillies, chopped cilantro, lemon wedges for garnish.

Method

Fry onions until golden brown, adding whole garam masala and ginger garlic.

Fry for a few minutes, adding meat.

Stir for a few minutes adding tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients, stir on high heat, seal pot with foil, cover with lid and cook on low heat until tender and succulently juicy.

The tender meat falls off the bone and makes a perfect main course, enjoy with garnish and a side of naan.

West Indies sack coach Simmons ahead of Pakistan T20s

KINGSTON: West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has been fired, the West Indies Cricket Board confirmed Tuesday, drawing a line under a stormy tenure marked by tensions with his paymasters.

A brief statement from the WICB said a decision to dispense with Simmons was taken after a meeting of the body’s board of directors on Saturday.

The 53-year-old former Test opener was informed of the decision as the West Indies prepared to travel to the United Arab Emirates, where they are to face Pakistan in a T20 series.

“Effectively immediately, the WICB today announced it has separated from the Head Coach Phil Simmons,” the WICB said in a statement.

It said the decision had been taken because of “differences in culture and strategic approach” between the board and Simmons.

“The WICB would therefore like to thank the coach for his contribution and wishes him the best in his future endeavours,” the statement added.

Simmons departure leaves Joel Garner as manager of the upcoming series against Pakistan, with Henderson Springer and Roddy Estwick coaches.

Simmons was appointed on a three-year contract in March 2015. His reign encompassed the West Indies’ remarkable T20 World Cup triumph.

However despite that high point, strains between Simmons and the WICB often bubbled beneath the surface, most notably in 2015, when he complained about the selection of the squad for a one-day series against Sri Lanka.

He was suspended after complaining of “interference” in the selection process, before eventually being reinstated after a reprimand.

Simmons’ departure continues a steady clear-out of the coaching staff that helped the West Indies capture the T20 World Cup.

Both Darren Sammy and Curtly Ambrose were eased out of their coaching jobs earlier this year. Simmons’ success in the T20 arena however was not mirrored in Test cricket.

During his reign the West Indies won only one of 14 Tests, with the most recent defeats coming in a 2-0 series loss against India.