Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pakistan's Ramzan and Its Discontents

Can people just stop with the pointless sms-es and emails wishing 'Ramadan Mubarak'? I mean, you hear from all manner of random people who you never hear from - or wish to hear from - the rest of the year (except also at Eid of course) and all it does is increase revenue for mobile phone companies and clog up bandwidth and  inboxes. Yes, I'm sure you are excited about fasting and wish to spread the cheer all round but as far as I'm concerned, all I see is ill-tempered drivers on the roads, office staff with bad breath (whoever said you cannot brush your teeth or use mouthwash while fasting?) and people who believe it is a God-given right to blow off work for a whole month. The Pakistani version of the holy month seems generally to involve all the things that the month is supposed to be against: a sense of entitlement, extremism, impatience, insensitivity and hypocrisy.

Isn't is also just a little bit cruel to be joyful about fasting when so many hundreds of thousands are going without food - without choice - because of the devastation of the floods? (Incidentally, by the principles of Islam, fasting is not contingent on displaced people in such situations.) So instead of the sms-es and emails, I would much rather see the same people doing something to help with the relief efforts. All Things Pakistan has a good post here about how you can help. Oh, and while you're at it, please stop with the enforced Arabicization, it's always been Ramzan in Pakistan, thank you very much.

Here's one email I got recently, forwarded from some Taliban mindset outfit in the UK trying to be hip:



Please note the injunction against listening to music and "useless activities" (which include television, phones and computers). How about an injunction against inculcating Taliban mindsets in the garb of religion?

32 comments:

Mackers said...

Useless activity: listening to closet-taliban lecture you. (yes it's an activity, takes a lot of effort too)

If someone Pakistani tries to wish you Ramadan Kareem, ask them who the hell Kareem is.

Mayanaz said...

Thank you for this very noble note on the ongoing Ramzan mania. I wish to see more of such notes. What's this Arabic nonsense called Ramadan Kareem when in Pakistan we've always used Ramzanul Mubarak? Is roza then saum and namaz sala..? Such symantics are the bastard children of Ziaul Haq that keep rearing their heads. We need another Jinnah today.

Qausain said...

Meri taraf sey aap sab Blog bananey walon ko Ramzan Kareem boht bohat mubarak ho :P

Anonymous said...

“Yes, I’m sure you are excited about fasting and wish to spread the cheer all round but as far as I’m concerned, all I see is ill-tempered drivers on the roads, office staff with bad breath (whoever said you cannot brush your teeth or use mouthwash while fasting?) and people who believe it is a God-given right to blow off work for a whole month.”

You’re very lucky if you only come across these people in Ramzan. Most of us have to put up with them throughout the year – and many of them never fast or wish others “Ramadan Kareem”!

“So instead of the sms-es and emails, I would much rather see the same people doing something to help with the relief efforts.”

What makes you think that the people who have been sending these text messages have not participated in flood relief efforts?

“Please note the injunction against listening to music and ‘useless activities’ (which include television, phones and computers).”

Also note the request to “give in charity and help the poor”. This, I guess, should take care of your concern that religiously inclined people do not help the needy.

“The Pakistani version of the holy month seems generally to involve all the things that the month is supposed to be against: a sense of entitlement, extremism, impatience, insensitivity and hypocrisy.”

“How about an injunction against inculcating Taliban mindsets in the garb of religion?”

Can’t agree with you more! But I wish you had driven to these points in a different way.

Anonymous said...

post by a confused Muslim wanna be atheist

Anonymous said...

I never saw you complaining about messages on valentines day, 14th august
are you also a liberal taliban ?

Anonymous said...

injunction against listening to music and useless activities... I think you take it to your heart... and by the way... take some medicines to get out of this talibanphobia...

Anonymous said...

Arab shows there face again, look at the picture(which speaks more than a 1000 words), this is the list of donors and UAE stands last ;-), which is so called our father nation. Is this is the way rich Arab Muslims celebrate month of Ramdan?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/10/pakistan-flood-international-aid#zoomed-picture

Aaiz said...

"please stop with the enforced Arabicization, it's always been Ramzan in Pakistan"

'Ramadan' is an arabic word and it has got nothing to do with Urdu. Pakistanis usually pronounce it WRONGLY as Ramzan.
If you are that passionate about Pakistaniyat and urdu, come up with your own genuine word for Ramadan rather than murdering arabic words.

DN said...

Nice write-up. Entertaining and very true

Magnum said...

@all the Anons
WOOOO! Here come the drawing-room Taliban. the ball scratching, videogame playing cyber jihadis. Just shut-up and eat your Big Macs you psuedo-Arab mommy-daddy. Go home. Mommy's calling. And don't forget to say your prayers before clicking onto youporn.
Fucking nose-picking preppie keyboard Taliban shit.

Fantastic post once again XYZ. Keep 'em rolling. Let's get more of these dickheads here.

Mackers said...

@ Anonymous 9.15: haha, it’s not exactly a card-holding member’s only club. If you want to, you got it. No stripes need be earned.

@ Aaiz: Ramadan or Ramzan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, and, as such, it has different pronunciations across the Islamic world – even Arabia. The month of Ramadan is pronounced Ramazan by Persians, and the Turks and South-Asians inherited that pronunciation from them.

In Arabia, the word is pronounced Ramathan by Iraqis, and Ramathan or Ramazan in the Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese accents.

A word becomes part of a language if it gains wide-spread usage by its speakers, and then the local definition and pronunciation apply.

All languages have evolved from and borrowed from other languages. If you really feel that us Pakistanis should come up with our “own genuine word” for Ramzan, you should perhaps also be on some gulf-Arab forums, scolding them for mispronouncing and generally distorting Aramaic.

Vanguard said...

why are bloggers in English obsessed with arabicization (if there is such a word) of Urdu. Its fine when Ramadan is pronounced Ramzan but why is "amreeka" always in inverted commas in English blogs. For someone who wholeheartedly promotes Ramzan should accept amreeka with similar zeal.

Why do we make an accent when we speak in English because if we speak in our normal tone it would turn out like how our across the border neighbors speak.

It seems such a useless exercise to obsess over language. Languages evolve constantly with new words and pronunciations coming in. Urdu is already dying with pure Urdu (if there is such a thing) limited only to Urdu press/poetry and rarely ever heard in public discourses or on the street. Let it go. It will sort itself out. No use wasting your breath on it.

Anonymous said...

Talking of Arabisation and Talibanisation, I feel sick to the stomach everytime I hear the now common phrase "Allah Hafiz". So what's wrong with good old-fashioned " Khuda Hafiz," which is fast falling into disrepute in this subconsciously Talibanised country of ours? Why not go the whole hog (sorry for the unIslamic word) and say " Fi Amanallah" from now on, like most real Arabs do?

XYZ said...

@Anon804: You write: "This, I guess, should take care of your concern that religiously inclined people do not help the needy."

Er, when did I say this?

@Anon915: Ok, if that's how you characterize yourself but why are you telling us?

@Anon1010: Maybe it's me but somehow nobody bothers sending me Valentine's Day messages. And the 'Independence' Day messages are usually sarky. Does that answer your question?

@Anon1016: I would, Mullah Anon, but I'm not actually phobic about them. I just hate them.

@Aaiz: I think Mackers answered you well.

@Vanguard: You write: "It seems such a useless exercise to obsess over language."

Aah, it would be safe to assume that it's not politics of language that you're in the vanguard of studying. I agree that languages change and evolve over time and I am certainly not in the purist camp. But the Arabicization of Urdu in Pakistan has nothing to do with an evolutionary development of language and everything to do with politics and an enforced ideology. And it is an ideology that I have serious problems with.

I have no clue where the reference to 'amreeka'/'america' and accents comes from.

Anonymous said...

If you worried about the arabanization of the society
than why are you not worried about the westernization of the society ?

@annon Allah Hafiz/Khuda Hafiz

do you also complain that why the kids now call their parents mummy and daddy instead of amma and abba ? or are you just burning with hate for Arabic ?

@XYZ
you said that
Arabicization of Urdu in Pakistan is an enforced ideology
so what about westernization isn't it also enforced by intellectuals like you ? during past 60 years our culture has been more influenced by west than it has been by Arabs

Christoph said...

This be a higwhay code: lower your gaze? On tha highway? Pfft!

csi said...

you know how in western media they always pronounce Iraq as 'I-rack'.. and if someone were to correct them and say its Iraq, they'd probably go 'no it is I-rack!.'
well sorry to say, but that's exactly how ignorant you sound in your post.

Ramadan like many others, is originally an arabic word, it is the 9th month of the islamic calendar. and it was always pronounced like that.
assuming you know your urdu, if i were to ask you to write the word 'ramadan' in urdu.. you would write it Rama'dh'aan.. not Ram'z'aan. in urdu many words are not pronounced the way they are written.'
if the marketing in pakistan.. and all those ppl in their sms suddenly start writing it this way, don't blame it on an entire race. it's not the arabs fault if things always catch on in pakistan so late.

FZ said...

Urdu is a syncretic language, a lot of words originate in other languages but they have their own Urdu pronounciation. Even the word "Urdu" is pronounced differently in the original Turkish. So it is incorrect to say "Ramadan" in Urdu.

Incidentally I love how the closet fundos are out defending their Arab brethren from the liberal desis. Please spend some time in the gulf states and see how they treat their Muslim Pakistani brothers compared to goras.

M. said...

Why are people so sensitive about Islam? If someone even questions something or says they don't agree with a particular aspect of it, people are ready to take up arms as if it is a personal attack on them!

Open your minds a little everyone...

Sultan said...

They sent you an email to tell you not to use a computer?

Anonymous said...

haha well said Sultan

Anonymous said...

Hi just read your blog. I was amused at how you see everything in such a negative light. whats wrong with getting excited about Ramadan.. here in the UK people go mad round christmas time. its christmas jingles all round.Irritating but neverther less tolerable.
I think you may have some issues of your own . correct me if I'm wrong but when it comes to Valentines day..i think Pakistan crazy about it..lolz . That's another thing Pakistanis have adapted from the west.

whats wrong with Ramadan Kareem... come on ease up its sounds good stay with the times. Accept who you are and accept and tolerate peoples beliefs. you seem to be suffering from the scrooge syndrome. Oh and how can you know people arent helping the people suffering in the floods and devastation in Pakistan. People dont have to gloat about helping others., so dont be quick to judge please. Lighten up and see the good in things .. take care :)

mahakamal said...

Way to kill the Ramadan spirit, XYZ =P. Seriously, let the country be happy over SOMETHING. In such desolate times, people hope for a miracle (or atleast fewer natural disasters), and a holy month is good to pray for that, don't you think? Also I have seen added relief efforts in the flood affected regions because of Ramadan.

Eiynah said...

These cyber molwis crack me up,
and as much as i love reading their comments over here, cafe pyala, I'd sure love to have bunch of my own cyber molwis to laugh at... on my own blog....How'd you do it, how'd you get em to venture over here?

Yousuf said...

You said :whoever said you cannot brush your teeth or use mouthwash while fasting?
Dude it is forbidden to taste any thing while your fasting,thats why you cannot smoke while fasting,thats why in the old days u couldn't use meswaak(ancient toothpaste)when fasting.Its a saying that the Prophet(PBUH)used to like the smell of a persons breath when he was fasting.
Now ofcourse you could brush your teeth before the call of fajr prayer but it aint gona do you much good if you sleep after that.so it could be possible that those near you had brushed but went to sleep.
Secondly its really common on your comment page that whoever doesnt agree with your point of view you assume is either a Taliban ,Arabic ,Molwi ,or something of the sort.And he or she gets a real dressing down from you.
So I am going to do some Assuming of my own.
1)You dont pray Namaz,maybe just friday prayers and on eid, but ill assume u just pray on eid.And you consider Namaz to be just a ritual.
2)You have never been to Hajj or Umra.
3)You dont pay Zakat.But you do give Charity.A Zakat is a Calculated formula of your assets,and ill assume that you dont calculate.
I feel bad about saying all of the above,coz its not allowed to assume anything about anyone you dont know,in Islam ,and I would like you to prove me wrong.

Aaiz said...

@Mackers and XYZ: There is some merit in you saying that languages continue to evolve and there is a case for Ramadan to be Urdu-ized and be called Ramzan but I have an argument against it.
Even in arab and all the islamic countries when you learn to read arabic properly with correct 'tajweed', Dh or 'duaad' is pronounced as it is rather than Zee (like in Urdu Persian and Egypt etc)
I am personally against distorting a word, especially a name from another language to make it sound 'your own'. So Ramadan, or Ramadhan should be pronounced as it is meant to be. I-Rack for Iraq example is a good one to quote here.
I am also against similarly funny urdu-ization of other language words like 'SAINMA' for cinema and 'GORMENT' for Goverment.
If that is Urdu showing its syncretic brilliance, I am not for it and I am pretty sure you guys are not either, it won't suit your snobbish nature.

By the way, such passion about urdu and you guys are blogging in English. Interesting paradox.

Anonymous said...

I guess the outcome of this discussion is : nobody wins. Let's just live with our Ramzan/Ramadan/Ramadhan and Khuda/Allah hafiz.

Though the underlying point is that such Urdu/Arab-isations should not arise out of a sense of "belonging" to the other culture. We would all remain who we are no matter how we pronounce words - doesn't achieve nothing. And it's also unfair to hear someone say Ramadhan, and conclude that he thinks of himself as an Arab more.

So why fret? It's past Iftar (aftar??)time right now, hence a content, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive view is possible :-P

P.S. i have started saying Ramazan ever since I learnt its correct pronunciation (not Ramadhan, can't bring myself to it.) Sole reason: it's a foreign word and i am learning. Like... how would we pronounce hors d'oeuvre if I must say it in discerning company? Urduisation is good, but it will make me feel like an illiterate fool. So with Ramazan/Ramzan/Ramadhan, to my mind.

Anonymous said...

Obviously this nation is in the state that it is in. Large portions of it are drowning,there is crap infrastructure, debt, poverty, ignorance, violence, and media censorship.
But all the elitist wannabes sit around in cybercafes, whining about 'Ramadan Kareem' vs 'Ramadan Mubarak'.

*slow clap*

Anonymous said...

@Anon above: considering you took out the time to read through all this amidst your frantic flood relief activities, *slow clap* :-)

Anonymous said...

Hahaha @ anon above, im actually at a fundraiser for this sorry country. Im getting quite bored listening to the same pathetic woes, again and again. Kudos to you, however, i imagine you think your response is quite clever. So typically Paki, all mouthy comebacks, net uselessness. Et us clap to that.

Guftari said...

janab Aaiz sahib,
bilkul SSahheh farmaya. ramadan ka ahhhtaram bohot daroori hay.
we must also start speaking other arabic words the right way e.g: diya-ul-haq, fadlur rahman, ssalman tatheer, dhil hajja, afdhal, dhalim, dhulm, madloom, darrorat-e-rishta...


XYZ... more power to you!