Monthly Archives: December 2012

Of Cricket and Rape

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On the day that it was announced that Sachin Tendulkar had retired from one day international Cricket, a friend had the following as her facebook status –

I can’t believe it. This news presenter just said although everyone was saddened by the recent rape case in Delhi, that nothing could match the sadness people are feeling over Tendulkar’s retirement! Do these people not think before they speak???

It is not a matter of thinking before one speaks; it goes on to reflect the state of mind and the order of priorities of many people. It staggers me that a country such as India which shows such reverence to basic societal facets like motherhood can simultaneously treat women with such disdain. Perhaps what the news presenter allegedly said is sincere and genuine. If an Indian Cricketer died today would there be the same amount of emotions running raw in India as it does now? It is likely not to be for the emotions would be much higher, the news of the death of a celebrated Cricketer would sell much more than the death of a rape victim. Sadly, the Cricketer is seen as speaking for many whilst transcending gender boundaries and the rape victim dies relatively alone.

My facebook and twitter feeds have been dominated by news of the deaths of two individuals this morning. One is of the victim of the afore mentioned rape, the other is of English Cricketer turned commentator Tony Greig. Tony died of natural causes and I sincerely do grieve his death, for he amplified the little squeaks Sri Lankan Cricket was making as it began to come of age in the Benson and Hedges cup in Australia in 1995/96.

But here lies the problem, the media space given to the rape victim by one’s own initiative is marginal compared to what I see on Cricket related matters. Further, whilst the death of Tony Greig seems to have united the genders, the cause of the rape victim and that of rape rather regrettably seems to be espoused only by females. Though I am sure there are men who had expressed their sympathy, I am yet to see one.

I tread carefully here. What affects women, has an affect on men. As clichéd a statement as this may be, a woman is a mother, wife, sister or a friend of a man and the converse is true for women. But as the gulf between men and women increase and modern societal doctrine tends to empower any one gender without reference to the other without regulation, where mutuality and co-existence between genders is a thing of the past, then both genders will be in a race to be superior to the other and this is harmful to women as it is to men. As it stands, yes there is an imbalance in modern society and men largely consider their gender to be superior to that of women, and that is reflected in some of the ills in this world. I have no time for such men in the same way that I have no time for women who consider their gender to be superior to that of men.

It so happens that most evils committed today happen to be committed by men. Even though I partially agree with this post and the actions described, marginalising men as a whole is detrimental to the cause. I hate to revere Cricket by this analogy, but just like sub continental Cricket, issues of women (and men) are best resolved when it galvanises both genders, not just one.

Image from here.

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The Muslim Life of Pi

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Not really the Muslim life, but spiritual life would have been more apt. Also, spoiler alert.

I finally managed to watch ‘Life of Pi’ yesterday, I say ‘finally’ like I have been wanting to watch it for sometime now, but no – it was just a spur of the moment decision to go and watch it. I didn’t necessarily have it bookmarked as a must watch.

The book has been highly commended and many people whose opinions I trust have recommended it to me and I really did want to read it. I did the mistake however of watching the film first, and I think I may now never read the book. By this I mean not to say that the book has now diminished in my mind as an essential read, but the film I thought was a bit of a drag.

What the film successfully does however is to make it clear how good the book is and why the book must have been so good in the way it elucidates the power and presence of God in our lives. Therefore, if anything the film doesn’t really reduce the impression one may have had of the book.

The film I thought was a bit too long, and there were instances where I would have pressed the forward button if I was watching it at home on a DVD.  Pi, the protagonist (a believer of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam)  gets stranded in the middle of the ocean after a shipwreck that kills all aboard including his parents and his brother, that was made clear, with that the  human mind can associate to some extent the various perils and sufferings that come with being stranded. The film spent a lot of time trying to convey this.  Personally, I felt there were instances where time durations could have been cut down, more so when no powerful spiritual or literary message was really being conveyed compared to the time that it was taking. Another good film which had good reviews and yet which I found to be a drag at times is 127 hours, yet another instance where the film tended to focus far too much on reinforcing the suffering of the protagonist upon the viewer when the message surely had been conveyed.

But as a spiritual person and someone who believes in the presence of God, there were poignant moments which struck me and certainly pushed the case for the fact that as humans we aren’t entirely in control of ourselves or our actions. Our actions too are a result of the manoeuvring of us by a far more supreme being.

When Pi was stranded in the middle of the ocean, with nothing to depend on except some emergency supplies he finds on the boat and a Bengal tiger with which he was constantly involved in a battle for life, and yet at the same time kept him alive and alert, one does get the idea that much is said here about life. This is an instance when one really feels helpless and is truly in the hands of God. Many times we come across people or situations in life which are to our lives like the tiger was to Pi in this particular sequence of his life.

The tiger was an apparatus used by a higher power that kept Pi alive by being the significant threat to his life that it was, the fact that Pi had to struggle so much to go to the boat from his little raft to collect supplies at the risk of being eaten up strengthened his resolve and kept him vigilant. When all else was lost and the tiger had nothing else to feed on except to eat Pi, hordes of flying fish suddenly collide with the boat and the boat fills up just enough fish for the tiger and Pi to feast upon, thereby reducing the vulnerability of Pi from being eaten up by the tiger.

Just at that point I was reminded of this Qur’an verse –

 وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجۡعَل لَّهُ ۥ مَخۡرَجً۬ا (٢) وَيَرۡزُقۡهُ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَحۡتَسِبُ‌ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسۡبُهُ

 “And for those who fear God, He (ever) prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in God, sufficient is (God) for him.”  (Chapter  65 Verses 2-3)

There were numerous instances during the film when I thought that the ideal scene had been set where Pi would perhaps dramatically yell out something similar to the prayer of Prophet Jonah (Yunus for Muslims), but he did not. However, Pi did look towards the skies and cry out in despair that he had lost his parents and everything else, and asked what more God wanted from him.

After leaving the carnivores island, Pi says something to the effect that even though he was in instances of difficulty in numerous occasions and all hope was lost, he sensed that God made His presence felt in one way or the other and despite all the pains and sufferings, he felt that God never abandoned him.

This is when one (I in this instance) realises how every single living and non living construct play a part in our lives and this whilst accomplishing their own purposes of existence, they also come and influence our lives to a certain extent to remind us of the purpose of our existence, and how we should get about our lives, as peoples of faith or otherwise.

Upon reaching the shores of Mexico, Richard Parker (the name of the Tiger) just walks away from Pi, stops for a moment as if to look back at him, and then just continues to walk into the dense forest and Pi never sees him again. This naturally upsets Pi a lot, despite all that the tiger and the boy have been through, through the most perilous moments of their lives, the tiger just walks off without saying good bye. This reminded me of another Quranic story, the story of Moses and Khildr.

Moses had erred by proclaiming that he was extremely knowledgeable and that he knew the mysteries behind all or most things without attributing his strength as coming from God. God sends down Khildr to meet Moses and after three incidents where Moses’ wrong claim to absolute knowledge is established, Khildr goes away, never to be seen on the face of the earth.

The tiger in this instance had a worldly purpose to fullfill, and amongst its scope of work would have been to teach Pi vital lessons of trust, belief, hope and absolute reliance on God.

Sometimes people come into our lives; in their living they fulfil their purpose of existence. But the very purpose of their existence may perhaps be purely as guidance to us who have erred as a mercy from Allah. The soldiers of Allah can take any form, and rarely do we recognise them as soldiers of Allah sent to help believers – but they are there.

Tabarani reports that , “A man came to Abu Darda and said to him, ‘O Abu Darda, your house has burned.’ He said: ‘No, it cannot be burned. Allah will never allow this to happen because of the words that I heard from the Prophet, peace be upon him. Whoever says these words in the beginning of a day, the Prophet, peace be upon him, told us, will not be afflicted by a misfortune until the end of the day, and whoever says these words in the evening will not be afflicted until morning. These words are, 

“O Allah, You are my Lord, there is no god but You, I put my trust in You, You are the Lord of the Mighty Throne. Whatever Allah wills will happen and what He does not will, cannot happen. There is no power or strength except with Allah, the Exalted, the Mighty. I know that Allah has power over all things, and Allah comprehends all things in knowledge. O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the evil of myself and from the evil of all creatures under Your control. Surely the straight way is my Sustainers’ way“.

In some versions of this hadith we further find that he said, “Come, let us go. So he went with them to his house. They found all the area surrounding the house burned but his house was not damaged.”

Life of Pi is of book or film that illustrates the life of a man, who believes in all main faiths, yet the lessons derived from it and the resonance it has to Islamic values is truly poignant. Points to those of us who ponder.

For those of you who do not believe in a God, this post will come across as loony. Watch the film or read the book all the same.

Image from here.

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Rewind Youtube Style 2012

I have a deadline today so I can’t spend more than ten minutes on this post. I was meant to do a year end post on 2012 which I may do soon. But for now, this new video by Youtube I think may go viral.

The reason I post this however is that Jehan of Sri Lankan English fame is on it, not that I am too much of a fan of his, I am barely – but kudos to him for getting in to this, unless this is a video manipulation.  If he in this, he has been in a production featuring PSY and many others, definitely an achievement. A video well done of course highlighting many salient features of 2012, by that I mean Kony and Felix Baumgartner, though I won’t subscribe to all the visuals.

More on this later.

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Egypt : To Be Illiberal In Liberalism

Mideast Egypt

Clashes have erupted in many parts of Egypt and many offices of the Muslim Brotherhood has been destroyed. Six have now been reported killed with more than 350 injured. The Egyptian liberals and secular elite are largely accepted to have instigated the violence after President Muhammad Mursi made a decree that places him above the judiciary (albeit temporarily) and the draft constitution has been passed and has been put to a referendum on December 15.

The fact of the matter is this, Mursi was elected by free and fair elections, and the referendum gives the Egyptian people the chance to reject the draft constitution if they feel that it will not be to the benefit of Egyptian society at large. However, the draft constitution does upset the secular Egyptian elite somewhat, as they feel the imminent bursting of their oligarchical bubble where again the law would be more strictly egalitarian. Therefore it is no surprise that the liberals in Egypt would be extremely sceptical and worried of a draft constitution presented by a constituent assembly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and ratified by the will of the Egyptian people. They fear that the powers they managed to muster during a corrosive Mubarak era would dilute if there was to be a constitution that would be more egalitarian and makes every Egyptian no greater than the other in the eyes of the law.

If indeed these secularists believe in democracy (which I need not remind is a secular construct), then they must allow for the Egyptian people to vote and respect the will of the Egyptian people.

What’s absolutely disgusting about some of these ‘liberals’ is that if they feel that their idea of ‘liberalism’ hasn’t been achieved, they are willing to indulge in almost any form of illiberal behaviour (violence included) to achieve their idea of liberalism. For most of them at least, the end does justify the means however contradictory to their ideology it may have been. That is why most secular ideologies are and continue to remain fickle, because the wants of a human mind are never a constant, and to act purely upon human whims would result in never having a consistent path.

Image from here.

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Tom Watson vs Andrew Neil

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I am actually very busy these days with quite a few things to get out of the way, but this twitter exchange between Andrew Neil of the BBC and Labour MP Tom Watson caught my eye.

It started with Andrew Neil tweeting the following :

This promptly got a response from Tom with the following –

And Andrew replied –

There is a validity in what Andrew says when he questions the effectiveness of the petition, I would have thought it may have been more prudent for Labour to influence the lodging of a government e-petition than promote the petition by Hacked Off. But perhaps the reply is in the following tweet –

Of course Tom Watson’s questioning of Andrew Neil is quite sound here despite the sarcasm, it can sometimes not feature in political discussions that Neil used to be editor of the Sunday Times and was appointed by Murdoch, a post he held for more than a decade.

Then –

And then –

And then former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott joined the party –

Image from here.

And John Prescott stayed in the party,

Both Tom and Andrew seem to have since deleted their tweets, well they aren’t appearing in my browser at least.

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Guess I am Back

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I am back to blogging is what I meant to say. For those of you who have been in this long enough I have been blogging here since May 2006. But over the last year I have been inundated with a lot of things and never really got the chance to blog properly for one reason or the other.

I am beginning to feel now that I may be able to sustain a practice of blogging, so here I am, back to blogging though I am walking into the cold water rather slowly, and on tiptoes – not that I that fear I will disturb anyone with too much noise, but you get the gist.

Unlike in my old blog, I will be blogging as myself and not as Aufidius. But my twitter is linked to this blog, so I will be keeping that alive. I am moving away from Blogger to WordPress for various reasons really, mostly because I prefer a fresh start and that WordPress is somehow more appealing than Blogger.

If you have been reading my blog or following me on twitter, you possibly know the kind of things I am likely to have an opinion about. So if it interests you, go on then – keep an eye open.

Those of you who have included my old blog in your blogroll, please change the link to the link of this blog – I am keeping the same old name, ‘Navigating on Balance’.

That’s that then, quite a few things to get out of the way, so I will be slightly more active in this blog after the 18th December.

Enjoy your weekend. 

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