Tag Archives: Religion

The Best Tool For Sexual Exploitation

When you think about it, it’s a fairly simple technique that doesn’t require any degrees or in-depth knowledge about hypnosis. And once you learn how to brainwash, it doesn’t take much time to bring out your evil side.

I still remember that evening when I showered and decided to wear a white shalwar kameez, before heading out to the grocery store to grab something for my mother. There was a mosque on the way. When I crossed it on my way back, a senior maulvi standing right outside stopped me and asked me for a lift.

As he initiated the conversation, he used his religious authority to ask me where I lived, what my father did etc. I answered truthfully. Maybe he wanted to figure out if he knew someone from my house? I don’t know.

I was riding a locally manufactured mountain bike that had a frail carrier installed at the back that could hardly carry my school bag. I motioned towards it and told the maulvi it couldn’t carry his load. So he continued trying to converse with me, and I didn’t know any better.

He spoke briefly about hell, and then turned towards heaven. He talked about working for Islam and told me about the hoors awaiting us in heaven. As he touched this topic, he also started touching my penis, gently moving his fingers around it and applying gentle pressure.

I quickly shifted the topic back to how it started off, and told him my bike carrier couldn’t carry his weight. Still touching me, he told me he could just sit on the rod connecting the handle and the seat. I told him I couldn’t balance the bike like that and bid him farewell, before making a quick dash home.

Allah Hafiz.

I never went for another Friday prayer again.

I guess this is what happens when you oppose nature and isolate women in society so much that men begin engaging in what is commonly known as “bacha bazi“. Most people who exploit young boys sexually are based in places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. They are straight, but an asshole has no gender as far as these people are concerned.

Thank you for reading this rather intimate story I’ve shared from my life. I have never been able to openly discuss these things, but I am starting to heal now. The patriarchy doesn’t allow me to share these things. Even my wife attempts to emasculate me if I become too sensitive about things – that scene in Kite Runner made my eyes wet, but I didn’t cry.

Also, it may not be much, but you can actually save some Afghan Orphans who might be sold as sex slaves just by making a small donation to AfghanOrphans.org – a friend shared their Facebook post which is what inspired me to write about my first inappropriate sexual encounter as a child, living in Lahore, Pakistan (in a rather upscale setting, that too). I was lucky that time but there was another time when I wasn’t so lucky. I will write about it some other time.

In case you’re still wondering what the best tool for sexual exploitation is, it’s religion.

Muslim Dichotomy

DichotomyChat with a Muslim friend:

Me: Oh, did you hear that Mulana saying this rubbish about women?
Muslim friend: But where does it say that in Quran? He is an idiot.
Me: But he is a qualified and respected Maulan.
Muslim Friend: You should not trust any maulana, Quran is the true word of god.

Two weeks later:
Me: Did you read that Quranic ayah which says husbands can beat wives? I saw six translations with words like hit, strike, beat.
Muslim friend: You and I cannot interpret Quran correctly, you should ask a qualified maulana.

Me: *Pulling my hair out and hitting my head into a wall*

Calling for a Secular Pakistan

I appreciate your passion for Islam. I also respect how you think that 1400 years old concepts are still valid today – most of them may be valid but many are outdated (DNA test versus 4 male witnesses). We are mere humans – we can’t decide what is best for us, right? Each one of us has his/her own destiny in this world, and a government has no business in deciding this for us. Most importantly, the government should manage affairs of the state, not interpret our religion for us.The Secular Creed

This country could be so much more amazing if it could become secular, so that religion has nothing to do with government of the state. Dogma divides us, and will continue to do so until we all take a stand or this country will break into tiny little pieces.

Beliefs are a private matter, not a public issue. My mother recites the kalma thrice while washing a new dish for the first time. Your mother doesn’t have to do the same thing, right? Or should we get the government to make this practice compulsory, and punishable by law if not adhered to? Maybe someone sends an SMS about someone who doesn’t recite the kalma while washing their new dishes and then they get tried in court for a blasphemy charge? Dig?

Ode to Salvation

It’s not everyday that the CEO of your company tells you, rather politely, “Okay, from now on, I will CC you in all the email threads.” The privilege of being an account manager was starting to get to my head – I felt like I had arrived.

Here I am!

Credit: frankhorvat.com

Once you go through a transformation like that, you DO look back at yourself, how you started off and how far you’ve come, and try to figure out what the hell happened. How the fuck did things work out – so well? I mean, seriously, you don’t know the shit I’ve been through. You don’t know how much I sucked, and I still do, probably. Things have never ‘just worked out’ for me, so excuse me for being cynical when they do seem to work out. It makes you pause and reflect, and REALLY wonder if God might exist after all, for justice is not something you find in the natural order of things.

On the other hand, if I just sing along the song playing on my headphones, Maynard sings:

“…Eulogy.

He had a lot to say,
he had a lot of nothing to say,
he had a lot to say,
he had a lot of of nothing – to – say!

“Come down,
get off your fucking cross
we need the fucking space
to nail the next fool martyr!”

Followed by a splendid lead that a true music lover like myself just can’t resist bobbing his head to, even if he’s surrounded by colleagues.

“To ascend you must die,
you must be crucified,
for our sins and our lies,
goodbye…!”

I despise religion from the bottom of my heart.

See, culturally, and, socially – in my family life, at least – I have been Muslim since I was born. I was born in Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah – a 90-minute drive away from Mecca. My grandfather, ‘whispered’ the Adaan (Muslim call for prayer) in my ear, and the first thing I ever tasted, was the purest, yummiest, most-hygienic form of honey.

By the time I was 10, I had already completed five pilgrimages (Hajj), numerous ‘mini-pilgrimages’ (Umrah), completed the recitation of the Quran twice and completed my early years of education at an American school. We traveled to Pakistan twice in this time, 6 months each on average, and both times my father cheated on my mother. See what I mean by the natural order of things?

So, how did I find out? Well, my mother told me. Sort of.

She told me my father always opened all his suitcases right in front of her except for this one Samsonite breed. That one, she said, he opened only after locking the room, in complete privacy.

So one day when my father was out, at work I guess, my mother tried to open the suitcase, and after some time, gave up and sat down, frustrated. That is when she thought it might be a good idea to ask ME to try.

I looked at the Samsonite case. It had 3 digits. Using simple logic (that the number had to be somewhere between 000 and 999) I started from 000 and kept checking every number one by one.

It was somewhere near the 200s when it snapped open. Both locks had the same code, and viola! Papa dearest was pictured with a hottie in our house – and then there was another one too amidst a separate stash of pictures! The third stack of pictures featured a third hottie, this time wearing my mother’s night-gown in one of the pictures. It was surreal.

For some reason I knew then that my mother would be upset with this. And reluctantly, being my obedient self, I went to tell her I had opened the suitcase and gave her the code on a piece of paper.

What followed were crazy times. They fought. A lot! Then after a few weeks they just started to co-exist without talking to each other all day.

Except when she called on our home phone. I didn’t know what to call her, so I called her ‘auntie’.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” would be her response if my mother picked up the phone. And then she’d just laugh at her, for several minutes sometimes, pitying her all the time.

“Tsk, tsk.”

At least, that’s what my mother told me. But if I picked it up, she would talk to me, ask me where my dad was, and tell me to ask my dad to call her back.

Like an obedient son, I would always pass her messages to my dad when he returned from work, only to be met with a slap or two, perhaps for breaking the news in front of my mother? I don’t know.

Shit hit the ceiling when he became abusive to my little sister as well – somehow girls get really attached to their fathers and my sister was no exception. Every morning it was a huge deal for her that he had to go to work. On one occasion, she hugged one of his legs tightly and refused to let go. My father jolted his leg violently, oblivious to where she might bang her head when she landed. Needless to say, my mother had had enough.

That episode marked the end of the fantastic mirage of a life I had lead in the kingdom. It was time to return to Pakistan.

The problem with getting your moral code from a religion is often the lack of guidelines it offers for all the grey areas. So you chop a thief’s hand off because Islam prescribes it in the Quran? Well, does it explain how a person with one hand will survive in this world?

Nope, there’s nothing.

Similarly, Islam goes at great lengths about the way husbands and wives should live together, but what does it say about divorce and separation? You guessed it, not much. All advice is aimed at reconciliation, and there’s not a word about how to go about life beyond divorce.

My mother had waived her right to divorce when she signed the marriage contract (Nikah) with my father, but she had no knowledge of it at the time. She had to file a law suit to obtain a ‘Khula’ in order to get divorced by my dad, but my father, aware of his privilege in the patriarchy, refused to sign it. He knew that she might be able to get married again if she got divorced, so he pledged to never sign it. He told her, “you will keep sitting in your parents’ home for the rest of your life,” as if to drive her to comply and return to him.

Of course she didn’t. I was above seven years of age, so I had to appear in court twice during the three years of court proceedings to confirm that I wanted to live with my mother. My testimony was to affect my little sister as well, since she was below 12 years of age and her testimony couldn’t count in a court of Islamic law. She would go wherever I went.

My father threatened to abduct us but twice we narrowly escaped it by hiding at a neighbor’s house.

Survival instincts tell us who we really are, as humans. There is no book of guidance that teaches us to hone our survival instincts. We simply adapt to our surroundings and try to make the best of them as we go through life.

And through life we went, albeit an endless stream of pitfalls, one after another. There is no easy way to imagine the life of a single mother trying to give her children the best while living in a male-dominated society. That too a woman who wasn’t designed to function as an independent woman in the first place.

We have survived, but we still have a long way to go. Fighting a patriarchal system as a man is a lot easier than fighting it as a woman. Sure there’s the occasional tinge of guilt as I feel I betray my fellow men. But what do they know about male privilege – it was passed down to them by their fathers, and they take it for granted everyday. I, on the other hand, never received it. But no, I don’t desire it. In fact, I reject it. The sad part is how the very people who suffered from it the most tell me to make use of my privilege.

So yes, I won the MNC’s account that my female peer did not, even though she has an MBA and works harder than me. (I only have a fancy bachelor’s degree and a talent she doesn’t have.) I also managed to gain our CEO’s trust. But this was not an act of misogyny – it was mere survival instinct.