Author: reveringthoughts Page 1 of 3

Caste System in Muslims: Let’s not deny it’s existence

Muslims who deny even the existence of caste and don’t even take the time and effort to learn about it sound exactly like their upper-caste counterparts from other religions.

Most likely, if you don’t think caste exists, you’re from the UC. Go ask your Abbu.

Back as a kid, there used to be this common phrase thrown around whenever there was a fight (read argument) ‘Jaat dikha diya na be tum.’

In school, a few of the teachers, while beating kids, would taunt them with words like ‘chamaar,’ ‘Adivasi,’ etc.

There used to be this practice of ‘washing the feet of Syeds during marriages in our village. My dadi’s family is Syed, and there have been occasions when they’ve washed her feet! Is this being recommended in Islam? No. Is it being practiced by Muslims? Yes.

It never, at that point, occurred how derogatory it actually is.

In a discussion with a friend, he talked about how in his village, if a man from a lower community were to visit their home, they’ll still sit down and not at the same level. And these are Muslims who are doing this to each other. Muslims who talk about universal brotherhood.

And please don’t say, ‘Islam does not have a caste system.’ Of course!! But Muslims have created it by borrowing it from others just for their own convenience. And it is a reality.

All of the above examples are still scattered. But, when it comes to marriage, the caste system is still standard. You can hear people using words like ‘Biradri,’ ‘khaandan,’ ‘rishtedaari,’ etc but that’s anyway, markers of caste.

It doesn’t translate into violence, not discrimination when it comes to mosques, businesses, etc. Thankfully.

And no, it is NOT as big a problem as it is with the majority community. But completely denying the fact that ‘Caste does not exist among Muslims is a false narrative.

Look who’s trippin again

Amid the heatwave and a looming electricity crisis, do you know who decides to resume his foreign trips?

Yes, him. Our prime minister.

I mean, we’re all looking for ways to beat this heat. But, the masterstroke definitely has to be from none other than the globetrotter himself.

Germany and France, I mean, who can ignore, right?

It’s alright if we continue to have power cuts in this heatwave. I mean, for someone who laughed about demonetization’s impact on common man and didn’t bat an eyelid when lacs of people died due to covid and suffered immense trauma, expectations are at the bare minimum.

When the entire energy is focused on fancy dressing himself and reading out of teleprompter, he’s bound to get tired? A trip to Europe is just the right call to enjoy on taxpayers’ money.

I hope no one there brings about the topic of ‘Global warming’ to him. He might just explain it to them. It’d be good if he just hugs and shares his abbreviation-filled speeches.

While we Indians will hope that nature takes care of the heatwave because expecting this communal government to do anything of value is plain stupid.

Preparing for Eid

Most likely, Muslims in India are going to celebrate Eid on Tuesday. Unless, of course, the crescent decided to show up tomorrow in India itself after missing from the gulf skies today. Highly unlikely.

This Eid-ul-Fitr will be the first one post-covid. Grateful that we got to observe Ramadan without the fear of the coronavirus. Of course, there were other viruses affecting peace throughout the country.

And that takes up a lot of our mental bandwidth. And most likely, will do so in the nearest future.

In times like these, it’s easy to feel, ‘what’s the point’ to celebrating when houses are being demolished and people are being put behind bars or slapped with court cases.

But, I feel, especially this time, we need to put our best selves forward and celebrate Eid the way Allah intended for us to. It’s a blessing bestowed upon us after a month of fasting, and we should honor it.

With at least two days left, do make it a point to prepare for the day as per the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Get some suitable clothes for yourselves and your family, clean up and decorate your houses, and most importantly, ensure you’ve paid out your Zakat and Fitra.

Yes, things are difficult. But, honestly, when they were not? If you look back on the stories of our Prophet’s companions, they faced worse, and yet they persisted. Have your tawakkul and use it as your strength.

If it doesn’t come naturally to you, think of the joy Eid brought you when we were all kids. Perhaps, that and just that can make you reconnect with the joy and happiness we’re all meant to enjoy.

May Allah be pleased with us and bring peace everywhere.

The bubbles we live in.

We all live in bubbles within our circles, communities, regions, and social spaces. Issues that we talk about, raise our voices on and seek solutions to are confined within the boundaries of these bubbles.

It’s so easy to be surrounded by agreeable audiences that share the exact cause or pain. There’s the validation of your thoughts and a mutual acknowledgment to shout out loud -YES, even I wanted to say that.

I definitely know that outside this bubble, there are polar opposites and similar bubbles of others in place. For instance, when I’ve resumed writing on Facebook, I can imagine myself being in a bubble. Interactions are limited to those who have the same concerns- mostly Muslims. And a few here and there.

But this doesn’t trouble me. It used to, a few years ago. So, what changed?

I realized that people could only empathize with others if it affects them. Not saying people don’t have empathy. They do. But, they can only empathize if they can feel something similar happen to them. Either now or in the future. Essentially, if they can’t fit your shoe onto their feet, it becomes a chore for them to empathize.

A few, definitely, force themselves to try and fit it. As they think that it’s the ideal way. But, unless there develops a pseudo empathy system, they give up. Even console themselves that they tried to clean their conscience.

If what I said above doesn’t make sense, then try to picture the number of so-called Islamic countries that have done to raise any voice against the lynchings of Indian Muslims. Or, think about that friend you shared a biryani with a few Eids earlier.

Of course, no one is to be blamed. It’s human nature to ONLY care about what affects them directly.

And that’s why being in these bubbles doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s a way to give voice to others who might not be able to articulate the pain. Writing is the sole craft that I can contribute to this, and I will. Even if it means these thoughts remain restricted to our echo chambers.

I do hope that Insha Allah when we come out of this that we develop empathy for even those that have a different pain than us, and we burst a few of these bubbles.

Document ’em all

The primary reason why they’ve not been able to shift the entire blame on Muslims as easily as before is because of video evidence. Videos recorded by Muslims capture the whole tamasha. 

Documentation is always going to be necessary. I wish we could all afford to install CCTV cameras outside every mosque in India. We’ll need to ensure evidence is captured against these goons. Else, a sizeable number will be put behind bars without bail. 

This is Ramadan, and hence, a larger crowd is present in the mosques. I hope the numbers drastically don’t reduce in troubled areas; else, there won’t be anyone to protect that itself. But, it’s a reality we will need to be ready for. 

Of course, cameras or evidence don’t scare them now. Even if some of them are put behind bars, they are welcomed with garlands when they come out. Getting arrested is like an induction session for them.  And yet, we all have to think of strengthening the security of our mosques and madrasas. Relying on the state will be foolishness. The force itself is corrupt and willing to stand by and watch our mosques being burnt and vandalized amid the cheers of Jai Shree Ram. 
Document everything. Voice out and speak regularly. Don’t care what anyone else will think of ‘soo many posts’ or ‘being political.’  Not all of us can always hit the streets or join politics, nor can we all articulate what’s going on. If you can, do what’s possible from your end. 

Ramadan is also a month for charity. Contribute to your local mosques in whatever you can to help improve their security.
Whatever happens, will happen according to Allah’s will only. But, there are still a few things we should do. Documenting things is one of them. 

After Ram, it’s Hanuman now.

After Ram Navmi, now it’s time for rallies for Hanuman Jayanti. The intent is clear—assertion of authority. Ensuring that they keep creating scenarios where violence can happen—awaiting for retaliation to bundle up as many Muslims behind the bar as possible.

We should brace ourselves for more such rallies, decorated with loudspeakers, saffron flags, sticks, swords, and the loud noise of these ‘bhakts’.

This is the only way the BJP can provide any kind of employment anyway. So, we’re bound to see this charade of fake religiosity being displayed more often. Such a convenient way to transfer our taxes to these jobless thugs without giving them a job. This is a job too, which they seem to be enjoying.

It won’t be limited to just these festivals. We should anticipate some innovations in Eid as well. They asked school kids to celebrate Vajpayee’s birthday on Christmas. They’ve even created a ‘Matr-pitr was on Valentine’s day. Legit. Perhaps, because our festivals’ date doesn’t get decided until the very end, it’s playing a spoilsport in planning for them.

We should remind some of them that this approaching Eid isn’t the one where we sacrifice. They’ll have to wait for a couple of months for their animal love to outpour.

Looking forward to the trend of Hanuman Chalisa being played with the azaan everyday. I hope they learn it by heart instead of reading it like those shared videos. Even I can recite half of it, thanks to the films and television we watched growing up.

We will retaliate. Not with violence. Allah will take care of us. In a way, our Imaan and taqwa are only getting strengthened because of it. Perhaps, this is Allah’s way of teaching us a lesson to leave everything to him.

We are here to stay. Deal with it.

They’re going to come for everything. Clothes, food, language, appearance, jobs, and everything you can name don’t fit into their idea of a Hindu Rashtra. It won’t matter in the spectrum of religiosity or privilege where you mark yourself. Whether you fancy yourself to be ‘moderate,’ ‘liberal,’ or ‘practicing.’ They’ll come after all. Your name is enough.

In the last 5-6 years, we’ve all had discussions about leaving the country with family and friends. Toronto, Dubai, New Jersey, Sydney, and Istanbul are not just destinations to travel to but viable discussion points on ‘where all you can go.’ A life far away from the maddening crowd that keeps encircling cities and states. Color-coding them in shades of saffron.

We’ve all stopped watching news channels, stayed away from mindless discussions, and even cut ties with many to keep our sanity intact. The online world has the handy unfollow button at our disposal, but the real world is yet to follow suit. We wish.

None of us mind the zoom fatigue as it helped us stay enclosed within our safe spaces. Offices, cafeteria, and the outside world before the pandemic ceased being that post the dawn of ’14. It’s much easier to watch them go ballistic on a comment section chanting slogans while justifying why we are rightly being treated this way.

We’ve watched transitions. From those asking, ‘Biryani Kahan hai?’ to ‘asking for a halal ban.’ From a concern, ‘your community should allow girls to study’ to ‘why is hijab allowed in college’ while sharing holi pictures from their college campuses with captions ‘hashtag memories.’

Expectations. We don’t have any. We start with the assumption that you’ll get one day to vote for a ticket for us to a camp far away. Sighing away at the ashes that burn through those chimneys. Maybe make movies about it years later and sob on stage years later. Don’t worry. A few of us will still remain somewhere.

For year’s, we’ve all grown listening to,’both sides’, ‘we should behave this way’, and gyaan from within the community and of course from outside. Now, we’re at a point where we don’t care.

It isn’t our battle alone. Even if we’re the first casualties. We no longer want to bear the burden.

What’s the worse they’ll do? We’ll be here. Waiting.

Not Toronto, Sydney, Dubai.

Here. Come at us, with whatever you got. #Day1.

The English Teacher Book Review

The English Teacher: Book Review

The English Teacher by RK Narayan.

The life of an English teacher in a small South Indian town is probably as mundane as it sounds. But, if this is a character out of an RK Narayan book, one can expect it to become interesting along the way.

Krishnan recently became a professor in the same college he studied at. He lives in the same hostel and manages a communal living alongside fellow college teachers. He appears to be an individual who doesn’t prefer change and needs to be pushed. This is evident in how he continues to live in the hostel after getting married or becoming a father. He only starts to look for a house after his father-in-law insists on taking his wife to the city from their village.

The story is about how Krishnan builds a home and a life with his wife (Susila) and their daughter (Leela) until tragedy strikes. The aftermath of it and how his life shapes up to be, form the second half of this book.

RK Narayan, as always, has crafted characters that appear distinct and yet authentic to their core. The personalities that help move the story forward bring forth their struggles. Be it the teachers who work alongside Krishnan, the local doctor, or the headmaster he befriends later, further the growth of our main protagonist.

There is a mythical slash spiritual side to the story towards the book’s latter half. Slightly odd at first, but the author makes it appear believable.

The relationship dynamics of a newly married couple (Krishnan and Susila) and their brewing romance and silly fights make you feel the writer is allowing the reader to enjoy its simplicity. Even the protagonist’s relationship with his parents, in-laws, and even his daughter has a relatable echo.

The emotional turmoil isn’t melodramatic but is portrayed as-a-matter-of-fact. Ensuring the characters are true to what they are. This is a common theme among RK Narayan’s characters. The consistent truth of the character.

Overall, I loved the book. Of all the books from RK Narayan, this one is up there alongside The Guide for me. Give this a read if you want to read anything by an Indian author. Reading him always makes me feel how criminally underrated he still is.

The English Patient Book

The English Patient – Book Review

The English patient by Michael Ondaatje.

Halfway through this prosaic melody, as a reader, you wonder why this is titled as such. Over time, as you flip the pages, the realization dawns on why it is so. I don’t recall reading a book that places so much emphasis on developing, exploring, and storytelling through the lens of all its main characters in such stark details. The book feels like a milieu of characters with war-torn pasts looking to salvage whatever is left of their own selves.

The story takes place at the turn of World War 2 when the allied forces are gaining, and the Germans began retreating. A war-torn makeshift hospital needed to be shifted to a safer place but an adamant young nurse (Hana) refuse to leave the care of a burnt patient and decides to stay on. The patient, presumed to be English, is a cause Hana has attached herself with for the foreseeable future. Caravaggio, a former thief, who also happens to be a friend of Hana’s father joins her. The three of them are later joined by a Sapper (Kip), a Sikh from India, who is with the British Army as a mine/bomb diffuser. Their lives revolve around the English patient who is slowly recovering and narrates snippets of his past under morphine or just flashbacks.

The book is about characters who’re trying to come to terms with the misery that war brought and coping with the trauma of their current life. Either trying to find positivity amidst the chaotic post-war world, which nears an end, and coming to terms with their current self. Michael Ondaatje, the author, presents each character like an onion which the reader discovers better by peeling each layer of their past. The author takes us through the struggles of Kirpal Singh (Kip), a Sikh from Lahore (part of erstwhile India), who abandoned his dream of becoming a doctor and joined the army. He also gets the reader indulged in the notoriety of Caravaggio’s life and Hana’s journey into adulthood from Toronto to where she is now, in the war. The story of the English Patient is sprayed as a mystery that keeps unfolding to the very last.

What’s beautiful about the book is the language that delves deep into each character that in no way feels this is restricted to a central plot. There are journeys within each and as a reader, you get to go into every one of them. The book is more of a gallery with a painting for each character that pops up in the 300-odd pages of this book.

If you enjoy words, this book is for you. There’s a slow brew of a romance not only between characters but is also felt when you read these characters. The author succeeds in making you fall in love with each of them. At least I did.

This is a page-turner for sure and long after having finished the book, I find myself thinking about Kip riding the triumph in Italy to Hana writing about the men secretly to Caravaggio’s past life and even the English patients’ love for Katherine.

It won the Booker prize and there’s a movie based on the book as well which I’m definitely going to watch soon.

Radical Candor: Book Review

‘Saying what you mean’ sounds simple and yet is a difficult skill to master. We all have our share of running around the bush before we come close to uttering the meat of what we want. In personal relationships, the filters are usually far less clogged for your words to not get stuck. However, the same can’t be said for your professional relationships. And that’s why it is essential to develop radical candor to say what you mean to get what you want.

If you’re managing a team or if you are in a position where you provide feedback, then this book is a good guide.

Kim Scott, the author, provides a guide to people managers on leading consciously by developing relationships that are based on solid foundations.

This two-part book dives into explaining how you can use your humanity to be more effective in being a better boss. To help you be more aware of issues that are way more common than you might presume. Essentially, there’s nothing unique about a problem that you’re facing as a people manager.

The first part also focuses on introducing the quadrant of radical candor. Alongside ruinous empathy, obnoxious aggression, and manipulative insincerity, how can you reach being radically candid? If there’s one thing to take away from this book for me, then it’s this.

The second part of the book lists out tools and methods for building relationships, figuring out how to guide people on your team by welcoming criticism and feedback, and even how to hire the best fits and fire those that might not.

This part is action-oriented and gives a step-by-step approach towards 1x1s, organizing meetings, and rich examples of what has helped those who tried these approaches.

On the whole, the book is laced with real-life examples from the authors’ life from her tenures at Twitter, Dropbox, Google, Apple, and her Juice software. She does a great job in keeping the examples relatable, and her advice appears realistic. Most of the techniques outlined by her are simple and yet appear effective.

Radical Candor is an illuminating read and is a guide I’ll definitely refer to from now onwards.

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