What Is Your Animal Personality?

Cougar
What Is Your Animal Personality?

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Via Ejaz Asi.

What 20th Century Theorist Are You?

Apparently, all these years of grad school have gone to waste. Despite being out of undergrad for a decade, I am still one at heart.

Undergrad
You are an undergraduate! Your mind has not yet warped into the utter oddness of contemporary theory. If you put down the beer bong, and start reading dreafully weird theory, you’ll probably have a better chance of not getting the answer designed to make fun of you.

What 20th Century Theorist are you?
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Via Brian’s Study Breaks.

My Life in Kashmir VII

Another brother of our Colonel neighbor was an Additional District Magistrate (ADM). He visited us in mid-November and informed us that Sheikh Abdullah had been freed from prison and made Prime Minister of the state on 7th or 8th November 1947….

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Previous entry here.

Another brother of our Colonel neighbor was an Additional District Magistrate (ADM). He visited us in mid-November and informed us that Sheikh Abdullah had been freed from prison and made Prime Minister of the state on 7th or 8th November 1947. He also saved us from starvation by sending some food grain. He told us that Sheikh Abdullah wished to see us. A few days later, Sheikh Abdullah came accompanied by the ADM. My cousin and I were advised by the house lady to insist on going to Pakistan. On seeing us, Sheikh Abdullah asked about me. When I went near him, he said, “These 3 telegrams are from your father. If you want to join your parents, we will send you to Palestine but it is better that we bring them here and you live in your own home.” In the mean time, my cousin started weeping and said, “All our relations have gone to Pakistan, we want to go to Pakistan.” I copied him. Sheikh Abdullah said, “OK, we will send you to Pakistan. Do not weep. You are good boys.” Then he asked the ADM, “Why don’t they shift to Jammu?” He replied that there was danger to our lives. (Father had sent 3 telegrams, one each to Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India and Sheikh Abdullah, to locate and send us to Palestine.)

Some days later, we were shifted under security cover to Usdad da mohallah in Jammu and placed in the house of Colonel (retired) Peer Muhammad. My cousin went to the bank and brought some money. Thus, we were able to purchase edibles and ate properly cooked food after about two months. We lived in Ustad da mohallah for about 2 weeks. During this period, accompanied by a Muslim Inspector Police and a few policemen, we visited our home. Everything in the house had been looted. Suitcases and even G I sheet boxes had been taken away. What we found there was large empty large G I sheet boxes and the large brass-made double bed. On the floor were scattered papers of our property and family pictures. My sister and I collected all these papers and photographs but we could not bring those because of weight. We saw blood at two places, on the roof of a relative’s house and on our roof near the place where Pakistan flag was hoisted. (After reaching Pakistan we came to know that the blood on the relative’s roof was of my father’s young cousin and on our roof top was of a 16 year old son of a neighbour. Both received bullets from machine guns of the army. The young boy died instantly and the cousin had died after 3 days without getting any medical aid.)

A plan was made to send to Pakistan minor children and injured women, parents or guardians of whom were supposed to have gone to Pakistan. Thus, on December 18, six small buses with children (including us) and women started off to Sialkot. Total drive was about 38 Km (about 24 miles). Sheikh Abdullah was leading this caravan in a military jeep and it was moving under protection of the Indian army. Sheikh Abdullah and the army stopped at the border. The buses finally reached and stopped at Sialkot Cantonment. In our bus, my sister was sitting near the window next to me. On seeing our aunts, we were very happy. However, their state of mind, that had been under persistent tension for about 2 months, can be judged from the fact that one of our aunts (whose children were with us) came near our bus and asked my sister Y, “Have you seen X, Y or Z?” She replied, “Auntie, it is me, Y.” It took our aunt some time to realize that she was indeed speaking to Y. Then we got down and hugged our aunts. They started kissing us while tears rained from their eyes.

Meanwhile in Palestine
In November 1947, having learnt of killings of Muslims in Jammu, my father sent a telegram to his cousin in Sialkot enquiring about the welfare of the family. By that time, my grandparents and aunt had reached Sialkot, so he sent a reply, “Elders arrived, children missing.” That took away my parents’ senses. My father left his business and belongings in Palestine and started the journey to Yemen in his car, accompanied by my mother and two younger brothers (the elder 7 years old was born in Jammu and the younger 9 months old was born in Palestine). The civil war was just starting there at the time. It took them several days to enter Saudi Arabia where the journey was safe but monotonous (no trees and rare inhabitance). After a long tiring drive, he reached Yemen, abandoned his car at Yemen seaport and reached Karachi, Pakistan by ship. In those days, only one train in a week used to run from Karachi to Wazirabad [a town near Sialkot] which was due after 3 days. A friend of my father’s in Karachi told him that the children have reached Sialkot. After traveling by train to Wazirabad, my parents reached Sialkot by Tonga [horse-drawn carriage] (a jouney of 44 km) in the end of December 1947.

Nutcases and Murderers

What can I say about the murder of 20 people in Turkey?

Near-simultaneous car bombs exploded outside two Istanbul synagogues filled with worshippers Saturday, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 300. The government said the attack had international links, raising suspicions that the al-Qaida terror network was involved.

One blast tore apart the facade of Neve Shalom —- Istanbul’s biggest synagogue and the symbolic center of the 25,000-member Jewish community in this Muslim nation —- just as hundreds of people inside were celebrating a boy’s bar mitzvah.

Three miles away in an affluent neighborhood, the other blast hit the Beth Israel synagogue, where some 300 people were marking the completion of a remodeled religious school. Six Jews were killed at Beth Israel and many injured, including Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva and his son. Fourteen Muslims were also killed —- including two security guards at Beth Israel and one at Neve Shalom.

These crazies and monsters kill people in their religious buildings. How low can one go?

A militant Turkish Islamic group, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front, claimed responsibility for the attacks in a phone call to the Anatolia News Agency.

The Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front, also known as IBDA-C, which told Anatolia attacks would continue “to prevent the opposition against Muslims,” has been accused in a bombing that injured 10 people in Istanbul on Dec. 31, 2000.

Reading about their stupid excuse all I can think of are profanities, but don’t want to use them because the last time I used profanities on my weblog I got a call from my parents.

POSTSCRIPT: The same sentiments go for the killings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia a week ago.

Slavery, Women and Islam

Let us start with a suggestion: Abrogate the bold parts in the Quranic verses below.

  • Quran 23:1-6: Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers, and who shun vain conversation, and who are payers of the poor-due; And who guard their modesty – save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are not blameworthy.
  • Quran 33:50-52: O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father’s side and the daughters of thine aunts on the father’s side, and the daughters of thine uncle on the mother’s side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother’s side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage – a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers – We are Aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess – that thou mayst be free from blame, for Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. Thou canst defer whom thou wilt of them and receive unto thee whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou desirest of those whom thou hast set aside (temporarily), it is no sin for thee (to receive her again); that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieve, and may all be pleased with what thou givest them. Allah knoweth what is in your hearts (O men), and Allah is ever Forgiving, Clement. It is not allowed thee to take (other) women henceforth, nor that thou shouldst change them for other wives even though their beauty pleased thee, save those whom thy right hand possesseth. And Allah is ever Watcher over all things.
  • Quran 70:29-31: And those who preserve their chastity save with their wives and those whom their right hands possess, for thus they are not blameworthy; But whoso seeketh more than that, those are they who are transgressors;

Now I don’t mean that they should be edited out of the Quran. That would open a Pandora’s box. I am thinking more on the lines of annotation and commentary saying these are no longer valid and do not apply now because they condone great crimes and sins. These clauses are from an era when humanity hadn’t progressed much and people didn’t have many rights that we take for granted nowadays.

I consider slavery to be a crime against humanity. Another common act associated with slavery was the abominable rape of female slaves. Yes, I classify sex between master and slave to be rape because a slave does not have the right to refuse. This is one of the worst crimes in my opinion.

Unfortunately, it seems from the verses above that the Quran itself allows sexual relations between masters and their female slaves. That is the interpretation of most scholars. A few modernist scholars disagree, however. Let’s take a look at our usual duo of conservative neorevivalist Sheikh Munajjid and modernist Moiz Amjad.

Sheikh Munajjid tries to argue that Islam limited an existing practice and gave more rights to slaves.

Islam limited the sources of slaves which existed before the mission of the Prophet […] to just one source, namely slavery resulting from capturing prisoners from among the kuffaar.

Islam treated female slaves more kindly in their enslavement than other cultures did. Their honour was not considered to be permissible to anyone by way of prostitution, which was the fate of female prisoners of war in most cases. Rather Islam made them the property of their masters alone, and forbade anyone else to also have intercourse with them, even if that was his son. Islam made it their right to become free through a contract of manumission; it encouraged setting them free and promised reward for that. Islam made setting slaves free an obligation in the case of some kinds of expiation (kafaarah), such as the expiation for accidental killing, zihaar (a jaahili form of divorce in which a man said to his wife, “You are to me as my mother’s back”), and breaking oaths. They received the best treatment from their masters, as was enjoined by the pure sharee’ah.

Secondly: A mujaahid does not have to be married in order to gain possession of a “slave whom one’s right hand possesses.” None of the scholars expressed such a view.

Here, he tries to distinguish between sex with a slave and prostitution. I guess nobody told him that the correct comparison would be with rape.

Slavery in Islam was originally prescribed because of Kufr. If there is jihaad between the Muslims and the kuffaar, and a number of kuffaar are taken prisoner, the commander is given the choice of sharing them out, doing them a favour (by releasing them) or paying their ransom. If they are shared out as part of the booty, they become slaves, subject to the laws governing products which may be sold. But at the same time, Islam urges the freeing of slaves and makes doing so an act of expiation for numerous sins. In principle, slavery is not something that is desirable; what is encouraged in Islam is the freeing of slaves. If a woman is enslaved according to sharee’ah, it is permissible for her master to have intercourse with her. This is unlike prostitution or zinaa, which Islam has forbidden as a precaution against mixing lineages and other reasons for which it is forbidden. There is no comparison between the two, because if a slave woman becomes pregnant, the child belongs to the master and she becomes free when he dies, because she has become the mother of the master’s child (umm walad), and is subject to the same rulings as a wife. And Allaah knows best.

And finally here is a case when the master is not allowed to have sexual relations with his slave.

It is not permissible for a man to have intercourse with his slave woman who is married; whoever does that has committed a haraam (forbidden) action and is to be punished.

Despite the fact that Sheikh Munajjid was a bit apologetic about the slavery issue, he considers any arguments about it being not allowed as wrong. For once, I agree with him that this has been the majority opinion of traditionalist and neorevivalist scholars. But I do think that not only should we declare it haraam [disallowed] (which is the position of some modernists), we should write in our translations and commentaries of the Quran that it is one of the biggest crimes/sins and a legacy of the barbaric past of Islam and humanity in general.

Islam allows a man to have intercourse with his slave woman, whether he has a wife or wives or he is not married.

This is indicated by the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and this was done by the Prophets. Ibraaheem (peace be upon him) took Haajar as a concubine and she bore him Ismaa’eel (may peace be upon them all).

Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also did that, as did the Sahaabah, the righteous and the scholars. The scholars are unanimously agreed on that and it is not permissible for anyone to regard it as haraam or to forbid it. Whoever regards that as haraam is a sinner who is going against the consensus of the scholars.

[…]The wife has no right to object to her husband owning female slaves or to his having intercourse with them.

The modernist scholar Moiz Amjad claims that Islam did not abolish slavery because it would have caused a lot of social upheaval as it was too entrenched in society at the time. I have read similar arguments from other scholars as well. But I think the same can be said for a lot of other things that Islam proscribed as well.

[T]he reason why Islam did not give any macro-level directives for the eradication of slavery was precisely the socio-cultural, economic and technological development state of the human collectivity, in general. It was only at a very later stage that mankind reached a stage where the collectivity could plan and implement programs for the macro-level eradication of the vice. Till such time, no collective administrative action could have been taken against the vice, individuals could only prompted against it, and this, in my opinion, is precisely what Islam did.

In more detail:

Islam did not completely abolish and uproot the institution of slavery because of the simple reason that it was not possible to do so. The institution of slavery had such deep roots in the world societies of old that it was quite difficult to even imagine a civilized society without a large percentage of slave population. It was in this historical background that the revival of Islam, at the hands of Mohammed (pbuh), started in the 6th century AD.

[… T]he major hindrances in the complete abolition and prohibition of the institute of slavery were:

  1. The existing internationally accepted social status given to the slaves and their prevalent moral training and position;
  2. The social acceptability of interacting with slaves;
  3. The macro economic situation in the societies (including the lack of employment opportunities for the unproductive slave population);
  4. The serious socio-moral and political implications that were likely to follow a hasty action in this regard; and
  5. The international situation

The basic directives of Islam in this regard were aimed at:

  1. Promoting freeing of capable slaves through various directives;
  2. Improving the social status and the moral standards of the slaves;
  3. Abolishing any future chances of converting any free men into slaves; and finally
  4. Awarding the legal right to each and every capable slave, who wanted to live his/her life as a free person, to earn his freedom.

These directives, in my honest opinion, amounted to the best possible solution to the problem with the least potential of any negative repercussions on the society as well as the individuals.

Moiz Amjad seems to think that the Islamic rules regarding treatment of slaves played a role in the eradication of slavery from society, an unproven assertion at best. According to my knowledge, slavery was finally abolished because of the West and especially the British.

[E]ven though Islam accepted the existence of slavery in the society, yet this acceptance was not as a permanent approval of the existence of this institution, but as a social vice, which could not be avoided under the prevalent domestic as well as international social conditions. The mere fact that Islam took a series of steps for the initiation of a social reform, which ultimately resulted in the complete abolition of the institution of slavery, is evidence of the fact that, given a choice, Islam would never have approved the existence of the institution, in the first place.

He does the right thing in saying that now that slavery is no more, it is against Islamic principles to revive it.

Keeping the foregoing explanation in perspective, it should be easy to derive that Islam would never approve any steps that may, in any way, contribute toward the reestablishment of the institution. Thus, as I understand it, once the institution of slavery has been completely abolished, Islam would not allow its reestablishment.

Another aspect, which clearly goes against making slaves of prisoners are the prevalent international laws and treaties, which are agreed upon by all Muslim as well as non-Muslims nations of the contemporary world. These laws and treaties have considerably changed the status of the prisoners of wars as well as any territory that is conquered during such aggression. No Muslim country remaining faithful to its international contracts and agreements can make slaves of its prisoners of wars, just as other nations cannot make slaves of the citizens of an Islamic state.

His defence of concubines is pretty weak.

Islam does not advocate Kanizes (Slave girls).

Islam has always been against the very existence of the institution of slavery. Nevertheless, like most of the other social phenomena, slavery too, because of its deep roots in the society, could not have been abolished by a single stroke of the ruler’s pen. It needed not only the provision of settlement opportunities for these slaves but also altering the social attitudes towards them. Islam, from the very beginning aimed at altering the social attitudes of the people towards slaves and slave girls. However, we see that the roots of this institution were so deep that even after twenty-three years of education, it was still not possible to completely abolish the institution. The maximum that could have been done was to give the slaves the choice of freedom, and that is exactly what Islam did.

During this process, it was necessary not only to better the social status of the slaves in the society but also to recognize the relationship between the slaves and their masters. It is in this context, that Islam has recognized the existing sexual relationship between a master and his slave girls. It must, however, be remembered that Islam has not promoted a new relationship but has accepted and recognized an existing one. In other words, Islam did not, for the first time allow sexual relations with slave girls but only recognized an already existing relationship between a slave girl and her master to be legal, for as long as the institution of slavery existed.

Although Sheikh Munajjid does not advocate reviving slavery, he does think it wrong to declare it “haram” [forbidden by Islamic law]. Moiz Amjad on the other hand does think of Islam as a somewhat evolving religion. Though I am disappointed in the Quran in allowing the rape of slave girls, I also think of Islam as not a rigid religion but something that evolves and progresses as we become better human beings. I also recognize the progress humanity has made in the last millenium or two. Hence, my interpretation of the following Quranic verse (5:3) is different than some others.

This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al-Islam.

I don’t believe “perfected” above means perfectly and completely defined, especially not at all a rigid definition that a lot of the neorevivalists care for. In my opinion, a lot of the human rights standards of 7th century Arabia were atrocious and we have come a long way but still have a lot to do. This progress and evolution of religion and morality is a good thing. Most people agree that slavery was wrong and we should not practice or revive slavery today just because the Quran and Sunnah seem to provide a cover. However, we need to go further and forcefully reject some of these old barbaric ideas.

If you are interested about some history of slavery in the Muslim world, here is an interview with Ronald Segal discussing this topic. Ronald Segal also wrote a couple of books on slavery, one on the Atlantic slave trade and the other on the African slaves in the Middle East.

UPDATE: If you are wondering why I am talking about slavery when it is no longer a modern issue (there are exceptions, for example, Sudan and Mauritania) and no one, either scholar or layman, is defending slavery or trying to bring it back, well here is the reason: Look at Moiz Amjad; he says slavery is wrong today but gives lots of reasons/excuses defending the Quranic sanction. All well and good but all he had to do to get me on his side was to say that whatever the reasons, slavery was still wrong then just like it is wrong now. He is typical of the attitude of quite a few Muslims who hesitate to condemn slavery in the time of the Prophet Muhammad. If it’s so difficult for a dead issue, how can we expect something on a live curent-day issue?

My Life in Kashmir VI

A few days later, three women came to the house we were staying in. They were the mother, sister-in-law and elder sister of my sister’s friend. The sister-in-law had a deep one inch wide wound in her neck which had become septic…

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Previous entry here.

A few days later, three women came to the house we were staying in. They were the mother, sister-in-law and elder sister of my sister’s friend. The sister-in-law had a deep one inch wide wound in her neck which had become septic. They were also in the caravan of 6th November, in which people were killed near the canal. My sister’s friend, who was not with them, was a very beautiful girl. The rioters were abducting beautiful young girls. Her mother directed her to jump in the canal and not take her head out. So, she drowned herself in spite of being a good swimmer. Her brother who was my classmate was also killed. They informed us that the sister-in-law, after being pierced with Balum, had fallen unconscious. They had lied down on the ground to escape being hit by bullets. Some people got killed and fell on them. They did not move and waited till the rioters were gone. They had reached us after wandering for several days. They ate tree leaves and grass and drank stagnant water to survive.

The brief of what the ladies and the young man narrated is: “The scattered Muslims in Hindu areas of Jammu city had been mostly killed. Only very few lucky ones shifted to Muslim areas. The 3 Muslim areas became under siege of Sevak Sang, Mahasabha, Akali Dal and the army. The army had taken positions on top of high buildings around Khalka mohallah. They fired on any Muslim coming in sight and kept on firing bursts towards the Muslim area with pauses. Muslims in Jammu city had no weapons after the search but they decided to stay in their houses, their past experience being that such quarrels used to be over in a week or two. They made holes in common walls of their houses, so that they could move to each other without going out to road or street. At some points, however, they had to cross a road or street but surrounding was all Muslim population. The holes were also a precaution in case a quick exit was needed because of an attack.

Only a few Muslims got killed during over 3 weeks’ period. In spite of the army cover, the rioters did not dare to come near the Muslim areas. Then one morning, it was announced, on a loudspeaker fitted on a Tonga [horse carriage], “This is a message from Colonel Peer Muhammad. Pakistan has sent buses to evacuate Muslims to Sialkot. All people desirous of going to Pakistan should gather in the Police Lines.” The Police Lines was on south edge of Jammu city near river Tawi, about 2 kilometers from the farthest end of Khalka mohallah. Though Col (Retd) Peer Muhammad was a leader of National Conference [a political party] yet people believed in the message because of his name, but that was a trap. Any person, who went to see the arrangements, did not return. If somebody carried a suitcase, that was snatched on way by the army. A lot of Muslims reached Police Lines where they saw buses lined up with Pakistan flags on top. On 5th November 1947, people were asked to board the buses and the first caravan started. There was another caravan on 6th November, 1947. The second caravan traveled bypassing Jammu Cantonment. When it reached a forest near a canal, the buses stopped. The passengers of the buses noticed Indian army personnel at a distance on both sides. They thought it was for their protection. Soon they heard slogans of Jai Hind and Sat Siri Akal. Then appeared hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs carrying swords, Balums and daggers. The rioters passed though the Indian army line and headed towards buses. Seeing this, Muslims started jumping out of the buses. At that moment rifle fire was opened by India army on both sides of buses. Men, women and children started running for their life. Many of them jumped in the canal but Balums, swords and bullets pierced them.”

After reaching Pakistan, we came to know that the only living brother of my grandfather had joined the caravan on 6th November and was never seen again. Further, a few persons who had gone with the caravan on 6th November, somehow reached Police Lines early morning on the 7th and informed Captain (Retired) Naseer (a leader of Muslim Conference) about what had happened. By the time a strategy could be decided, people had mounted the buses present there. Capt Naseer passed by all the buses saying loudly, “Hurry up get into the buses.” But, at low tone, he kept on saying, “If you want to stay alive, come out of the buses.” Within an hour all the people came out of the buses. Then Capt Naseer addressed the officers of Indian army present there, “Fire the machine guns fixed on top of the Police Lines and kill all of us. Why are you taking trouble of carrying the people to kill? Thus wasting petrol and time. Start the fire, I promise that not a single person will try to run.” That created a stir. Then Sheikh Abdullah was freed from prison and appointed prime minister of the state. He delivered an emotional speech. The gist was “Muslims and Hindus of the state are brothers. Henceforth, there will be no killing. I will go round and see myself that peace and tranquility prevails.” It is said that Sheikh Abdullah, before accepting premiership, had demanded that Indian army from Nabha and Patiala must be replaced by army from Madras who were known to be neutral. Two days later, caravans from Police Lines started reaching Sialkot without being attacked. My grandparents and some other relatives reached Pakistan on 9th November 1947.

Next in this series here

Political Surveys

You might have heard of the Political Compass survey which asks you a bunch of questions and then maps you on a two-dimensional map where the horizontal axis is for left/right economic views and the vertical axis signifies libertarian/authoritarian. My results were in the left libertarian quadrant (-1.62, -5.33). Tim Lambert has a table with the results for a lot of bloggers.

Now, Tim Lambert has created a table for blogger results for a somewhat better political survey by Chris Lightfoot. I got -3.4321 raw (-0.2066 normalized) on the left/right axis and +2.3291 raw (+0.1402 normalized) on the pragmatism/idealism axis in this survey. Here are my detailed results.

My Life in Kashmir V

Our neighbour and his brother were Colonels in Maharaja’s army. They were on the border but their families were at home. Same day it came to be known that their families had planned to shift to some safer place. Our guardians requested them …

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Our neighbour and his brother were Colonels in Maharaja’s army. They were on the border but their families were at home. Same day it came to be known that their families had planned to shift to some safer place. Our guardians requested them to take six minor children of our family with them: 3 cousins, my 2 older sisters and me.

During the next night, we were asked to quietly move to a military truck parked on the road keeping our heads low. We took with us some rice, flour, lentils, one liter tin of olive oil, one single-sized quilt and some money. We reached Jammu Cantonment, Satowari, and stayed in a military residence protected by 4 military men who did not stand around the house but lived in a room about 20 meters away from the house. Only one of them had a gun while armed rioters used to come in fifties. We lived there under fear of being murdered. Sometimes, after the sunset, we used to hear “Jai Hind” and “Sat Siri Akal”. Those nights particularly we used to pass under great fear, praying to Allah for help and security. Six of us used to sleep on a Namda (felt) 6 ft x 4 ft and one single size quilt over us not covering my head and feet, others were taller than me. Nights in those days were cold. Allah protected us otherwise we should have died of Pneumonia.

I and a cousin used to go for collecting fire wood. Till we returned our sisters used to stand behind the outer door and prayed for our safe return. I used to break and collect wood and he used to pull the bundle. Normally, we got dried cactus. My palms were full of thorn pricks.

The edibles and water being available in small quantity, each one of us used to eat one small piece of bread or a little rice with lentils. When olive oil was finished, we used to eat boiled rice with boiled lentils (no salt or pepper). When lentils were finished, we ate only boiled rice. Rice was about to finish and we were worried but Allah was kind. When I and my cousin went out looking for firewood, a burqa clad lady came near me and whispered, “Where are you living ?” She knew us. She followed us keeping a distance and entered some minutes after us. Having come to know of the food problem, she promised to arrange something. Her residence was half a mile away and an easy route. Two days later, I went to her residence with money and she gave me some lentils and rice.

In the end of October, the houselady informed us that Muslims in Poonchh, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad had started fighting on 24th October, 1947 for freeing the state and that fierce battle was going on between them and the state army.

During those days, the tap water was hardly sufficient for drinking in Jammu city as well as in the cantonment. So, we could not take bath for about one month. On 6th November 1947 (about noon), five of us boys went to take bath in the nearby Canal. We saw many clots of blood floating in the canal water. We got scared and rushed back. When we informed the people in the house about that, we were advised not to go out and not to open the outer door.

That afternoon, somebody knocked at the outer door hysterically. I was standing in the courtyard near the outer door. The lady of the house asked all the female members to go to the rear room, send the boys out and lock the room door from inside. She directed the boys to give me cover and signaled me to open the door. As I opened the door, a tall young man in his early 20s, wearing a sleeping suit rushed in, shouted, “Sab mur gayay” [everyone died], fell on his face and fainted. I closed the outer door immediately. The other boys rushed to the young man, turned him over and two of them screamed, “what happened?” Somebody sprinkled water on his face. He got up, shouted and fainted again. Then he was lifted and taken to the room and all children were ordered to leave the room. Only wives of the two colonels and the oldest boy remained inside. In the evening, we came to know that he was son of our neighbor’s elder brother who lived in Pthanan da mohallah. They had started for Pakistan in a caravan 6th November. All family except him was killed. He knew the way to our residence and had come hiding and running. He informed that a caravan had also gone on the previous day. This made us think that all our relations in Jammu were dead. So, we all started weeping and there was no one to console. We kept crying and did not eat anything. On evening of the next day, the two ladies, still sobbing, consoled us and gave us rice to eat.

Next in this series here

Matrix and Kill Bill

We watched The Matrix Revolutions and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 over the weekend.

The Matrix Revolutions is an OK movie in my opinion. All the reviews and blog posts about it that I have read have panned the movie, but I liked it better than The Matrix Reloaded. Reloaded had a lot of bad philosophisizing that didn’t make much sense and that was discarded for Revolutions. Obviously both the sequels are no match for the original The Matrix, which lest we forget was good because of its premise and its action sequences rather than the philosophy.

There is absolutely no comparison between Revolutions and Kill Bill: Vol. 1. All I can say is WOW. Kill Bill is Tarantino at his best. He uses the 1970s Hong Kong action movie stuff brilliantly. I am a big fan of Pulp Fiction, and was expecting something great from Tarantino again. Let’s just say he didn’t disappoint.

My Life in Kashmir IV

Initially, Muslim majority provinces were to form Pakistan and the rest India. States were to decide their future according to wishes of their people. Baluchistan, Sind, NWFP, Punjab and Bengal were Muslim majority provinces. It was decided to divide Punjab and Bengal …

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Initially, Muslim majority provinces were to form Pakistan and the rest India. States were to decide their future according to wishes of their people. Baluchistan, Sind, NWFP, Punjab and Bengal were Muslim majority provinces. It was decided to divide Punjab and Bengal on district basis. The state of Kashmir was overwhelmingly Muslim. See this post for the population figures according to religion. In Jammu town, Muslims were a minority. Muslim population areas in Jammu town were (1) Khalka mohallah (Khalka means at comparatively lower altitude) (2) Ustad da mohallah (3) Pthanan da mohallah. (Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan [Chief of Pakistan Air Force and politician in later years] lived in Pthanan da mohallah). Khalka mohallah was much larger than the other two combined. We lived at an edge of this mohallah at a T-junction of roads. The diagonally opposite houses were of Brahmins. I had heard them some of cursing Muslims. I did not go to that area during 1947.

Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Sialkot and Gurdaspur touched the state and were Muslim majority districts, and the state being overwhelmingly Muslim, the Muslims of the state were sure to be a part of Pakistan. Muslims of Jammu used to take out processions. Once small children were included in the procession including me. The slogans used to be “Lay kay rahain gay Pakistan” [We will get Pakistan], “Bun kay rahay ga Pakistan” [Pakistan will be founded], “What do you want ? Pakistan”, “Pakistan ka matlab kia ? La ilaha il-Allah” [The meaning of Pakistan? There’s no god except God]. During July 1947, Muslims of the state passed “Accession to Pakistan Resolution” and 14th August, 1947 [the date of the founding of Pakistan] was celebrated with immense joy. On my wish, my grandfather hoisted a large Pakistan flag on top of our two-storey house using steel pipe 32 ft tall.

Boundary line of Pakistan and India in Punjab was not announced till 14th August, 1947. In the final boundary commission award, district Gurdaspur was divided which provided India with a clear land passage to Jammu.

After announcement of division of Gurdaspur, Nehru, Patel and another Congress leader reached Jammu and started pressing Maharaja Hari Singh to declare accession to India. They went back after 3 or 4 days without any formal announcement. Soon after, Indian army started forced landing in Jammu. Also, militant wings of political parties of India (Sevak Sang, Maha Sabha and Akali Dal) started entering Jammu in large numbers with Balums, daggers, swords, rifles, etc. under the protection of intruding Indian army.

It was announced in Jammu that all people must deposit everything that could be used as a weapon. After a few days, a search of houses of Muslims was conducted and even domestic knives of over 4 inch blade were confiscated while Hindus and Sikhs wandered around carrying all types of weapons.

With the start of October 1947, killing of Muslims in the villages had started. We saw villages on fire from top of our house. The number of villages on fire increased as the days passed. On sighting the moon of Zil-Hajj [the Islamic month in which Haj is performed and animals sacrificed on Eid in commemoration of Abraham’s offer of sacrifice of his son], rumors spread, “Pehlay Muslay qurbani kartay thay, iss Eid per hum Muslon ki qurbani karain gay” [In previous years, Muslims used to sacrifice animals; this year, we’ll sacrifice Muslims]. A few days later, curfew was imposed on the city and attacks on scattered houses of Muslims within the Hindu areas of city started. News of Muslims being killed or injured started pouring in but nobody could go out to assist anybody due to curfew which was being supervised by the army.

One night, roar of machine gun fire was heard coming from two sides of our house. Target was our house because my grand father used to finance Muslim Conference [a political party of Kashmir] and that the large and high flag of Pakistan was still fluttering on our housetop. There were shouts of Muslims raising slogans “Nara-i-Takbeer – Allah-o-Akbar” [God is great] and “Pakistan zindabad” [Long live Pakistan]. Next morning, one of our tenants for over a decade (a Brahmin Hindu) came to our house with a bucket of milk and gave it to our aunt saying, “I thought that milk from your lands may have not arrived. So, I have brought it of my own cow for the children.” None of us was in a mood to drink milk or even eat anything. Next morning, my aunt threw the milk in the drain outside the house. A cat came and drank some milk. After few minutes we heard some strange voice. We rushed to the door and saw the cat dying.

Next in the series here.