Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mullah Idol

Malaysia, a relatively liberal Muslim country, recently completed the broadcast of an American Idol type reality TV show. The point of Imam Muda – or “the Young Imam” – was to find young Imams who could lead the younger-generation towards religion, by finding someone that the youth could relate to. Imam Muda, in its very first season, has proved a roaring success – becoming one of the most-watched shows on Malaysian TV, in recent times.

The contestants, in Imam Muda, faced weekly challenges, as in any reality-show. These challenges included: giving counselling to married couples facing marital problems - and to young ‘delinquents’ hauled in by the police under suspicion of engaging in sex, performing the last rites of HIV-positive corpses, and sermonising to unwed pregnant women. The finalists were asked to deliver khutbas, recite naats, and answer religious questions by the judge - to test for depth of Islamic religious knowledge.  The winning contestant, the 27-year-old Hizbur Rahman Omar Zuhdi, was given a scholarship to study in the al-Madinah International University in Saudi Arabia, an all-expense-paid Hajj trip, and a job in a Malaysian mosque.

After its grand success, the show’s creators are now hoping to produce similar shows in other Muslim countries.

I, for one, am not convinced that a Pakistani version of this show would be the best of ideas. While Malaysia has a relatively homogenous Muslim society, with most Malaysian Muslims belonging to the Shafi'i sect of Islam, Pakistan is a little divided on the issue of religion. It would be pretty tough for the producers in Pakistan to choose who to have as judges. Will the show have Sunni, or Shia judges? If Sunni, would they be Deobandi or Barelvi? If Shia, would they be Twelvers or Ismailis. If Twelvers, would they follow the ISO, Zameer Naqvi, or a third party? And so on and so forth.

And if they decide to pick a mixed jury, I am pretty sure a WWF-style mullah brawl is going to break out, on live television (Mullah Zaeef with a take-down!). And God forbid if they let Ahmadis participate. Even if all other judges gang up to pick on the Ahmadi judge, the Pakistani courts will still have a field-day prosecuting the Ahmadi judge for daring to utter ‘Muslim’ phrases such as “Aslamalaikum” and “Astaghfirullah”, which our laws forbid them from doing. Religious freedom and justice be damned!

However, if the Malaysian producers are dead-set on replicating their show in other Muslim countries, I have some recommendations for the Pakistani version of their show. Pakistani mullah associations, such as the Jamaat, are likely to ask for all potential candidates to have the necessary pre-requisite qualifications – to make absolutely sure that the potential candidates meet the tough criteria necessary, to be a maulvi in Pakistan.

Education for example. It would be crucial to ensure that all candidates with post-secondary education are barred, and that college education counts as a serious handicap, in marking. Non-religious education obviously takes up too much space in the brain. A loyal tabula rasa is vital!

To meet local Pakistani-mullah standards of competence, and to make it easier for the Malaysian producers, here is a list of essential elements:

·        It is necessary to assign appropriate challenges, tasks and tests, for the aspiring Imams, to perform, during the show. Gruelling tests of religious knowledge should be necessary, to determine fitness to be a Pakistani mullah. Challenges such as: who can come up with the most, original conspiracy theories in a strict time limit of 60 seconds?  Intricate theories with traditionally recurring themes and characters should be encouraged.  If you don’t have at least two kaafir persons or organizations working together, hand in hand, to malign and destroy Pakistan, you will be short-listed for immediate elimination (yes with klashnekoffs! we have a reputation to protect). Salman Rushie and Mossad being the actual founders of Blackwater, is a good example, of such a theory. If you can rattle off a list of competing sects and religions that can also be blamed in anti-Pakistan conspiracies, bonus marks should be awarded.

·        Strict adherence to ‘divine’ religious logic should also be a pre-requisite. If you don’t have the mental strength to make profound logical deductions, you are just not good enough. Profound logical deduction: “If one is a terrorist, one can’t be Muslim, so the bombings in Pakistan are obviously not the actions of Muslims” in the same breath as, “stop killing our Muslim brothers (Taliban), this is all the fault of our infidel, puppet leaders and the nexus of RAW, Mossad, CIA, and Blackwater.”

·        The judges should also be looking out for good logicians who can with confidence, and without missing a beat, proclaim that minorities living in Pakistan must live by ‘Muslim’ cultural standards, and also have the ability to berate, at length, the zaalim West (read: France) for not allowing Muslim sisters to wear a face-veil.

·        Contestants that partake in protests involving burning of effigies, and general mayhem, every time anyone, in the West, accuses Islam of being violent, should be marked more positively. That is the best way to prove that perception wrong.

That point should be stressed frequently, throughout the show, with statements such as: “We are peace-loving people, there will be no need for war after Ghazwa-e-Hind is established.”

We are peaceful people, peaceful people!!! Beat that damn effigy!

·        Contestants that take interest in, and are knowledgeable about, history should be encouraged. Knowing essential facts such as that the television set was invented in Israel, to trick good Muslims in to missing their prayers, can be very helpful.

·        Contestants that spend their spare time constructively, by visiting Christian cemeteries, across the country, to write Kaafir on the gravestones,  those that beat up mixed-gender groups in university campuses, those that make death-threats to CD/DVD retailers, and those that lathi charge the hedonistic Pakistani music concerts, should be given special mention, for their contributions to Pakistani society. A good-citizen award!

·        Contestants who can convincingly criticize the Western and Indian hegemony in Pakistan - including the wearing of jeans, viewing of Indian movies, and consumption of Walls Ice-cream  – while themselves wearing Saudi-style dishdashas, owning Russian Klashnekoffs, driving Japanese Toyota Hiluxs, and answering American Iphones, should also receive positive marking, for having the good sense.  All those that have the ability to plausibly pass-off these and other socio-political beliefs, as divine religious truth, should definitely be promoted to the finals.

Ooooooh! Aaaaaah! Brrrr! Kate Winslaaayt! On my Iphoone!

·        If the contestant understands that Pakistani television has become too vulgar and needs to be censored, but is also mad for Katrina Kaif and Kate Winslet (“Wah, tit anic, kya film thi”), he should be awarded a small cash sum, for having faith-compliant preferences.

·        For the Pakistani version of Imam Muda, the prize selection, for the winner, is absolutely critical. A scholarship to a university in Madinah just won’t do, here. Our local mullahs already know all there is to know, plus, Wahabbi thought already pervades Pakistani society, so no more brain-washing required. And what’s the point of a simple job, working in a mosque. The winning contestant should be handed his very own madrassa, straight away, to enable another generation of children to learn mullah-isms. One can’t, ever, have too many madrassas, and that job seems much more worthy, of the winner of Mullah Idol.  Oh, and the awards need to be tailored to the preferences of a Pakistani mullah, so I think it would be a great idea to also award the following: a bottle of kala kola (for the pampered mullah who demands a jet-black beard), a one-size-too-short-Junaid-Jamshed-brand shalwar (for the fashionable yet pious mullah), a klashnekoff (perfect accessory), and an advertising contract with Lays potato chips.

The runner-up should also get his own madrassa (can’t have too many), and an advertising contract with Mezan Banaspati.

If most of these criteria are met, I have no doubt that this show will be appearing on a Jamaat-e-Islami television channel near you, very soon.

After having imagined the hilarious scenarios that could result from this show, I am not even all that against it being made. Imagine if a female aspirant shows up for auditions. I would take great delight in watching the judges’ hands shoot up, to grab their ears, while they mutter “tauba, tauba,” in a state of religious indignation.

It would be funny too, to see the different personalities of the judges. I can see the Simon-Cowell-type judge berating the contestant. “You are just not good enough; you can’t give a khutba to save your life. Go home!”

The Paula-Abdul Judge: “Acha tha, lekin if you threw in the IMF in to the mix, with Blackwater, Mossad, and RAW, it could have added that extra something.”

And the Randy-Jackson mullah: “Amazing dawg! You know you my mullah. Try improving your mimbar-presence, next time, because I know you are capable of shrieking louder, but I loved it.”

Nevertheless, I am still concerned about the elimination rounds. Pakistani ‘scholars’ are not know for being the sporting types. A contestant, furious over being eliminated, might become fatwa-happy and start declaring the judges and fellow contestants ‘Wajib-ul-Qatal’; and someone in the audience might just be impressionable enough to follow through.

Hmmmmm, what did you think of that khutba?

Note: All the criticisms above are of those fundos in our society who interpret Islam to their own ends, act like the rakhwale of religion, want to impose - by whatever means possible - their own views, on others, and generally ruin and make miserable, the lives of all their countrymen. No offence is intended to those, religious and non-religious, who understand that the practice of religion is a personal matter, and that beliefs can’t, and should not, be enforced upon. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rage Against The Audience

There is an old video of Zardari Jr. going absolutely nuts, ballistic, at a taqreer he gave to a gathering of PPP party-workers. The dude screamed so loudly down the microphone that even I had to take my headphones out. I couldn’t but help feel sorry for the PPP audience as they winced, yet somehow resisted - under the smiling yet intimidating gaze of Mr. President - the urge to jam two fingers, squarely, in to both their ears. Perhaps, that moment was when it was more appropriate for the President to tell someone to Shatup!

After having watched the Bilawal video, once the shock had worn off, and the buzzing sound left my eardrums, I tried to understand what the man could have possibly been thinking. I was left with the impression that Jr. was trying his best to match up to the oratory brilliance of his maternal-grandfather, the original Bhutto.

Z. A. Bhutto had mad skills when it came to speech-making; he could get the crowd riled up like no one’s business. Looking back at his speeches, the one thing noticeable is how he would build up the tempo. Starting off slowly, his speech would get more excited, his gestures more animated, and his voice louder. And the crowd would be right there with him. Not only was he great at making speeches, he would understand his audience, and tailor his rhetoric to their preferences. If the audience wasn’t likely to respond, he would let it be. But that is not Bilawal.

Having watched his gramps videos, maybe the thing he took away was: ‘great speeches are loud speeches.’ So, in his speech, he started off loudly, but when he noticed that the crowd was not reacting the way he would have liked, perhaps, he thought, “I should try louder.” When that didn’t work, in his frustration, he decided to dial up his volume to decibel batshit-crazy. Some of the crowd - realizing that if they didn’t show visible appreciation, Bilawal was going to flip his top - got up to give a half-hearted, obligatory ovation. Some even did a little fist pumping – to make absolutely sure that Bilawal was done.

To allow you to compare Bilawal, to the man he tried to ape, I am attaching a clip of a speech by Zulfikar A. Bhutto and then, the one by Bilawal.

His most famous speech, the one I am pointing at, starts
around 1:10 and ends at 1:40

Watch - Bilawal Bhutto Crazy Speech in Urdu - HOW FAKE? in Comedy | View More Free Videos Online at

You might want to lower the volume on your headset for this one.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any hearing loss resulting from this video. All medical expenditures are responsibility of the speech-maker.

P.S. It seems that the 'Bhutto' family's Urdu accent gets stranger with each generation. By the next, we will proudly boast the Pakistani version of freshies. Either that or Bilawal Jr. would have joined Altaf Bhai, in leading his party from London.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Roti, Kapra, Makan, Aur.....Laptop

I read a blog-post about Kapil Sibal, the Indian HRD Minister, announcing a new Indian-made tablet PC that would purportedly cost only $35. The post noted that India still doesn’t produce any of the components of such computers - the processor, ram and etc - and that each of these components, which would have to be imported, would cost near-enough the selling-price of the tablet PC, to make said PC impossible - at that price. Not to mention the fact that nothing has come up from a previous, similar announcement, by the same minister. But, fact is, no matter how outrageous the claims of Indian ministers might be, our Pakistani ministers can always top them.

LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 07: A Hanvon Touchpad, an Intel Atom-based Windows 7 tablet PC, is displayed at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 7, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The unit has a 10.1-inch screen, e-Book content and includes handwriting recognition software in different languages including Chinese and English. It is expected to be available in March 2010, for about USD 700. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology tradeshow, runs through January 10 and is expected to feature 2,500 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 110,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
                  You like? I wantings the 35 Dollah

A case in point is the recent article in The News about the announcement by President Zardari that “presently the users of internet in the country are 20 million and in coming years they would reach to 200 million, adding, the present government wanted to provide internet service and a laptop to every home.”

It needs to be said, though, that The News’ journalists are not exactly known for strictly sticking to the facts, when authoring their articles. Not that I think that they play fast and loose with facts, but rather, they, possibly, lose their way when translating the Jang news in to English. Lost in translation, as it were.  

Still, when it comes to this piece of news, I have no doubts as to its veracity. This seems like exactly the kind of thing our dear leader would promise. Remember the good times, when we used to be told, every interview, that the electricity problems would be solved by the following month, until the poor minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, decided that he had told that joke one too many times, and it had gotten old.

So then, as we all know, the Pakistani politicians are used to making bold, sometimes seemingly impossible, promises. But when the President was getting carried away, and got to the part about providing internet to 200 million people, in the coming years, somebody should really have stepped up and whispered in his ear, what the current total population of Pakistan is - to give him somewhat of a reality-check.

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25:  President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari addresses the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters on September 25, 2009 in New York City. The United Nations General Assembly is meeting for their 64th session featuring leaders from over 120 countries.  (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
I'll get to distributing laptops right after I put up this picture

In Pakistan, a country where half of the population can’t even read and write, where the majority of villages aren’t even electrified, the President aims to provide a laptop to the dude sitting in his hut in Pindi Bhattian. And internet too!

Hypothetically, the laptops would be provided, already juiced up, so that the ordinary Pakistani can enjoy a couple of hours of surfing time, before the ‘low-battery warning’ pops up, and the man, without a single electric socket in his house-hold, comes crashing back to reality.

After that, confused as to what to do with the laptop, the man can try ploughing his field with it or feed it to his water buffalo, but it’s not supposed to be particularly useful for either of those purposes.

The point is: perhaps the President should concentrate on first meeting the basic needs of the Pakistani awam, and then dream about the days when every Pakistani would have a laptop and an internet connection. You don’t start off constructing a building with the top floor first. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Israel: The Last Bastion Of Democracy and Human-Rights

An Arab-Israeli guy was recently sentenced to 18 months in jail for “deceit rape". Deceit rape is not the normal kind of rape, it’s consensual. So why the jail sentence? Well, he fibbed. More precisely, ‘fibbed while Arab.’

The dude told a Jewish-Israeli woman that he was Jewish. At this point she might have decided she wanted him ‘real bad’ and they proceeded to a nearby building to do the deed. Imagine her horror when she later found out that the guy she had just had all over her, to put it mildly, was *Arab*. Oh no! Disaster!

The vengeful asshole was so distraught, she decided to file charges to try get him a nice little prison sentence. The court was equally shocked and agreed with her. In its
ruling the court decided, “the court must protect the public interest against sophisticated criminals with a smooth tongue and sweet talking, who can lead astray innocent victims." (So that's what a ‘smooth criminal’ is!)

The court reasoned that since the man wouldn’t have gotten any action, if not for his lie, he had actually raped the woman.

NEW YORK - APRIL 25:  Producer Jamin O'Brien attends the after party for the 'Handsome Harry' screening at the Gates on April 25, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

See this innocent looking Israeli man? Beware! He could be a 'lying',
'conniving' Arab

In his defense the guy, Sabbar Kashur, pleaded that he never actually stated that he was Jewish, but rather, the woman made assumptions from his nickname, Dudu, which is more commonly used by Jewish men.

The most interesting aspect of this case is that it might have a few inadvertent implications:

• Any Israeli geriatric, who dyes his/her hair, might be in trouble. How is the poor person to know that the real colour of your hair is white or maybe even salt and pepper. *shock*

• I am guessing that, now, adultery might all of a sudden have become illegal in Israel. In this, Israel will be taking cue from some of its more radically stringent neighbors.

• Women with any sort of implants in the key areas might also be in trouble. Imagine the poor lad’s shock, if, after coitus, he finds out that he has been had. Rape!

This might also lead to bizarre scenarios where women would have to make the requisite declarations before proceeding forward. “Now I have to warn you, by law, that what you see is, technically, not what you get.”

• Men who are prone to exaggerating the size of their warriors might be in for it. Hell hath no fury like a disappointed Israeli woman. Same goes for those Israelis who like to boast that they have mastered complicated moves such as the reverse pile-driver. If you say you have, then you better have it down to an art form. And make sure your friend doesn’t have outrageously high standards.

• Israeli men and women might also need to start declaring their entire complicated blood-lines. He/She might not want to sleep with the 1/5th Mongolian you have in you. Make sure to account for all latent prejudices.

• Israeli bachelors and bachelorettes might need to start listing any medical procedures they have had done. “I have a metal plate in my leg, had hair-replacement done......oh, and one of my molars was filled-in.” Actually, it might be a better idea for Israelis to start carrying medical-history cards in their wallets. Maybe bank-statements too, lest that Primark suit is confused for a Brioni.

There are so many pitfalls that there is a vicious rumour doing the rounds that Israeli success rate has dropped by 99%.

One thing I do want to know is: is there a pecking order in Israel? If your crime is especially egregious, say you have some Muslim Eskimo in you, could you get more than 18 months. I am just guessing; I have no idea which race the Israeli justice system finds most repulsive.

Also, I want to know what the different jail sentences would be for the crimes described above. What happens if the deception is more minor? For example, letting her believe the rental is really yours. Would you only get community service? “Yeah, that car is mine!” Next thing, the city is making you pick up trash.

In related news, the Israeli city of Petah Tikva has decided to send psychologists to the homes of Jewish women dating Arab men, to “rescue” them. Apparently, the culprits are Russian women, who migrated to Israel more recently, after the break-up of the USSR. These women don’t really mind relationships with Arab-Israeli men because they “did not undergo the religious and Zionist education” that more settled Israeli families have gone through. Follow the
link to read many more interesting tidbits.

Miss USA 2009, Kristen Dalton unveils Miss USA Couture Pop at Sugar Factory in Planet Hollywood on May 6, 2010 in Las Vegas, NV (photo by: Steve Taylor/ Meet The Famous). Photo via Newscom
An Israeli definition of jailbait? (Risque, I know)

But, there is a bright side to everything; this last-straw could mean that the Arab-Israeli frustration might be compounded to new unprecedented levels and they might knock us, Pakistanis, off the
top spot for ‘Google searches for Camel Sex.'

Anyways, it’s nice to see that Israeli courts have decided to enshrine racism in to the legal framework. As the days pass by, they look more and more like the neighbours they decry. ‘We are located in a tough neighborhood,’ my ass. Unsurprisingly, this news has got hardly any of the attention and scrutiny that the global media gives to draconian legal rulings by the Israelis’ ‘fundamentalist’ counterparts. I know no limbs are being chopped off, but still, is institutional racism - and the jail sentences borne out of it - not worthy of any attention? Especially for a nation that promotes itself as the bastion of democracy and human-rights in the Middle East. Well, I guess Rupert Murdoch has an agenda to promote, let’s leave him to it.

P.S. I just wanted to note that the guy committed his ‘crime’ in 2008, and has already spent two years under house-arrest. Now that the court verdict has been decided, he will have to spend an additional 18 months in jail.

First Post! Booyaa!

I want to dedicate this blog to all the commenters on CafĂ© Payala who found humor in my trolling flame-war, in the comments section, of the‘Mathira’ blog post. Especially Ahsan Butt, of Five Rupees blog fame, whose blog I recently started reading, and have become a big fan-boy of.

I had thought about starting a blog before but never knew anything about blogging, what I could possibly write about and whether anyone would even read. I still don’t have much to write about so I can’t guarantee frequent posts, but hopefully, I will stick to it.

Well, I have hastily prepared a blog and a blog entry, so for your reading pleasure I paish: “Israel: the last bastion of democracy and human-rights”