Monday 21 May 2012

Afaq Raheem of Mirpur selected by Pakistan Cricket Team

Afaq Raheem from Mirpur has been selected by the Pakistan Cricket Team as a batsman in their squad to face Sri Lanka. He has played for Eagle Stars in Mirpur, and has also been to England and played for Rotherham in the Yorkshire League.

Friday 18 May 2012

Discovering the Caste System in Azad Kashmir as a British Kashmiri

Written by Sameer Hussain
Many years ago, during a school holiday visit to Dadyal (Azad Kashmir), I became aware of the importance given to the caste system in my region. I was with a friend at his shop in the Bazaar, when he asked me about my friends in England. I told him I had several friends whose families originate from Pakistan and even from Azad Kashmir. He then asked me to name a few close friends and was curious to know what caste they belonged to. When I explained that I didn’t know what caste any of my close friends were from, he was shocked and for a moment he failed to believe what I’d said. I realised that locals had a habit of asking people what their caste was, that’s if they didn’t already know.

I found it quite strange at first, because whilst studying Religious Studies at school, I learnt that the Hindu religion had a caste system but there was no such system or its equivalent in Islam. In fact, Islam opposed the concept of a caste system altogether, as it undermined the importance attached to unity. I had no doubt come across the names of a few castes mentioned in various conversations but I assumed that they were merely family names and not associated with a caste system. I recall that my Grandfather often referred to one of my Uncles as ‘Chaudhary’ with great pride in his voice, as if it was a title of great significance and deserved admiration. I began to pose questions and I then grasped that a caste system was undeniably in place. I discovered the names of some of the castes such as Chaudhary, Raja, Khawaja, Ansari, Masalli, Gujjar, Sanyaray, Malik, etc. To complicate things further, I learnt that some castes are given more than just one name e.g. people from the Chaudhary caste are also known as Jatt. Some castes are divided further into groups and even those groups are at times divided even further. For example, within the Raja caste, one of the groups is  that of the Keyani's and within it you will find there are other groups, one of which is known as the Gakhar's. Understanding the caste system itself is quite a challenge and no doubt my knowledge is and probably will always be limited as is the case with most people I assume, with the exception of the odd historian. I realised that the word ‘Baradri’ is used to refer to caste. I often heard people making comments such as ‘apni baradri ne log” meaning people of our own caste. It made me think how we have so many castes and members of each one in a strange way are made to feel a part of their own clan, and that caste is regarded as an important part of an individual’s identity. People are stereotyped, judged, ignored, disrespected, welcomed, loved, married, and all these actions are somewhat based on caste.

I still didn’t have a genuine understanding of what each caste represented or how the different castes were arranged within society. Though I knew some of the basics, it didn’t really make much sense to me. Fair enough, caste can be used to categorise people into say for example different professions e.g. Masalli are drummers and Sanyaray are jewellers. But if you are born as a Massalli and then become a Jeweller, are you still a Massalli? It just doesn’t hold any logic. Surely, people change their jobs and the same profession is rarely passed down from one generation to another. Or do we assume that society is constructed in such a way that opportunities remain with the so called ‘high’ castes and the others are left stuck in their professions. It seems that such a system doesn’t reward people based on merit, instead the positions of honour are granted to the prestigious castes even if there are more deserving candidates from elsewhere in the imposed hierarchy.

Some people seem to hold the belief that caste to some extent does affect how people behave and it plays a significant role in what they do in life. I somehow don’t understand how I would have been any different if I wasn’t a Chaudhary, I’m pretty sure everything would have been the same in my life. I find it very strange when I see youngsters wearing t-shirts that have slogans on them such as ‘Jatts Rule’ or ‘Rajay are the Best’. I seriously find it bizarre that young people are wearing symbols to show off their caste. They proudly display their caste on their car or their motorcycle. Even on the increasingly popular social-networking site Facebook, individuals often remove their surnames and add their caste instead. There are even Facebook pages which make claims that one caste is the best or aim to get together all members of a particular caste. There seems to be a lot of pride and people want to show their caste to others. Then we have people who stick to their own castes i.e. they don’t socialise with people from other castes, because they feel that they are superior and better than others. I was in Dadyal during the local elections in 2011, and many people simply voted by looking at caste, this was referred to as ‘Baradriism’. However, the public was in shock when Raja Noman Kamal decided to leave Raja Ali Zaman’s party and instead support Chaudhary Khalid Masood. A lot of people were surprised because Noman Kamal neglected the typical mentality of siding with your own caste. In many circles, this political decision was saluted because it demonstrated that people are willing to see beyond the narrow mindedness of ‘caste-ism’ and are not limiting their perspectives due to the traditional caste system.

In England, many people have moved on from the caste system, it just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. We are seeing more and more families getting their sons and daughters married out of caste. However, there are still certain groups of people that are stuck in the 1970’s it seems, and they sometimes openly, at other times - secretly dislike people of other castes. This is a real shame because you wouldn’t expect this from people who are living in a multicultural society such as the United Kingdom, where credit is given, in most cases, based on merit. Race, colour, religion, gender, caste and other such factors are not given much importance.

Going back to Azad Kashmir, families are still reluctant to marry from out of caste, because they fear that they will lose their dignity in their own Baradri. People will say things like, for example, ‘inna apni kurri ‘caste name’ ne hawalay karri shori’, they have handed their daughter over to a ‘caste name’ family, and such comments no doubt are accompanied by a negative tone of voice, often with more venomous comments. Some will say these people are backwards and such practices are only common amongst illiterate people. However, this kind of mentality is common in Azad Kashmir and it seems like this is the case amongst even educated and religious families. Families are afraid to break away from the culture they have followed for many years. Many youngsters are left with a difficult decision, if they want to marry someone from a different caste, then they often have to oppose their parents, humiliate them in the Baradri, or instead they can decide to give in and marry someone within their own caste.

I personally don’t see any real benefit in the caste system. I fail to see how its application has or can deliver any vale to society. Instead, it poses a threat to bonds between people, promotes a culture of disunity and in many ways leaves us divided and consequently weakened. If we cannot see beyond caste, then I’m afraid to say our future is not going to be anywhere near as bright as we’d like it to be.

Written by Sameer Hussain (M.Eng) - Admin Dadyal Online
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Sunday 13 May 2012

Thursday 10 May 2012

Pakistani PM Gilani’s Birmingham rally cancelled over security fears

The News has learnt that a war of words broke out between the High Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Peopleís Party leaders brought over from Azad Kashmir to make arrangements for the rally of PPP diehards, but the situation swiftly changed owing to a number of highly controversial factors and the British government was asked for a higher level of security.

After the Supreme Court issued its detailed verdict on Tuesday when Prime Minister Gilani had already left the country for London, fears here grew that there could be a serious security breach during the prime ministerís address to Pakistanis in Birmingham at the International Conference Centre.

One of the biggest problems Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Chaudhary Abdul Majeed faced was that most of the PPP units in the UK were in Barrister Sultan Mahmoodís camp, who enjoys a strong support amongst British Pakistanis of Kashmiri origin.

At various meetings attended by the AJK PM to appeal for the Birmingham rally attendance and to gauge the mood of the public, he was told that the ordinary worker of the PPP was not happy with the direction of the party in Pakistan or Azad Kashmir. Barrister Sultan Mahmood arrived in London on Tuesday after a weeklong European tour to campaign for the same rally, but Chaudhary Abdul Majeed faced resistance from his supporters in Birmingham and other West Midlands cities.

The High Commission of Pakistan asked the AJK premier if he would take the full responsibility that no unpleasant incident would take place at the rally, to which the AJK premier couldnít provide a satisfactory assurance but assured that he still wanted the rally to go ahead at any cost.

Thus it was left to the High Commission of Pakistan to make their own arrangements in parallel to the security guaranteed by the British government, but in the end it was decided that the rally was going to prove to be a big hassle and had too many risks attached to it. Chaudhary Majeed also told the High Commission that he couldnít be expected to make foolproof arrangements when the invitation cards have been distributed without his approval and consultation. “The rally was cancelled over fears that any boisterous situation could develop which could be a public relations disaster for the prime minister, who is already under a lot of pressure. The infighting in PPP means that the warring groups donít see each other eye-to-eye. There were also fears that the PPP workers could clash with the PPP workers outside the venue.î

The High Commission had informed British authorities that Prime Minister Gilani will address Pakistanis for an hour at the event billed as ìInteraction with Pakistani community in Birminghamî and had requested for security arrangements accordingly.

A spokesperson at the International Convention Centre said: The booking has been cancelled but obviously we will charge the cancellations fees.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani arrived at the five-star Churchill Hotel in a convoy of luxury cars with an army of his ministers and advisers and nearly two dozen media men in toe in what is considered to be one of the largest entourages of its kind.

As reported by The News

AJK PM Majeed desperately campaigning for Gilani rally in UK

LONDON: Azad Kashmir’s Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed has been dispatched to the UK on a special mission to ensure a good turnout at the public rally of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Birmingham on May 12.

Pakistan People’s Party senior command ordered two key leaders of the their party’s Azad Kashmir chapter Barrister Sultan Mahmoood Chaudhry, former AJK Prime Minister, and the incumbent prime minister to mobilise their tens of thousands of clan and baradri members to welcome the Pakistani premier when he addresses a PPP gathering in Birmingham.

The AJK premier’s visit to the UK with an army of advisers, including PPP AJK leaders, advisers and ministers, is in addition to PM Gilani’s own entourage.

“PPP’s Kashmiri leaders were told to reach Birmingham and take up the responsibility as organisers of the rally and look after the arrangements. The sole purpose of these leaders being in the UK is to make PM Gilani happy. They could have stayed in Kashmir to deal with the pressing matters,” a source travelling with PM Majeed told this correspondent.

Many other PPP leaders have already started sneaking into UK to become part of the jamboree. The AJK PM has no official engagements in the UK or anywhere else in Europe during his 10-day long visit.

Birmingham has the largest share of Pakistani Kashmiris who trace their roots to Mirpur and Kotli Districts in Azad Kashmir and they have a strong political clout. PPP which once preached socialist ideology has abandoned any notion of ideological semblance, openly seeks support on the basis of ethnicity, clans and area prejudices, as far as Britain is concerned.

PML-N President Zubair Gull has announced that PML-N will be holding demonstrations against the PM’s UK visit. Radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Shia organisations are also planning demonstrations during PM Gilaniís visit.

The News tried to speak to Chaudhary Majeed many times but he was busy but one of his team members confirmed that the AJK government was fully paying for the expenses. He also confirmed that the AJK PM has no official engagements in the UK.

As reported by The News

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Monday 7 May 2012

Mirpur Stadium selected by PCB as potential International Cricket venue

An aerial view of Quaid-e-Azam stadium in Mirpur - Azad Kashmir (AJK). The PCB has chosen the Quaid-e-Azam stadium in Mirpur as a potential venue for international cricket. With a capacity of 16,000, the stadium has played host to eight first-class matches from 2005 to 2009. It has also hosted several Under-19 international matches against Australia in 2007.

Friday 4 May 2012

Election Campaign leads to Public Brawl in Alum Rock between Labour & Lib Dems

May 2012 Birmingham UK: There was an unfortunate incident in Alum Rock (Birmingham) during the Council Elections. The son of Mr. Azam (Lib. Dems candidate who lost) was involved in a fight with the sister of Mariam Khan (Labour candidate who won). Mr. Azam and Mariam Khan are relatives and this incident took place on Alum Rock road when the campaign was heating up ahead of the election on 3rd May. The campain office door was damaged and other supporters were also involved in the brawl. The incident was reported to West Midlands Police who are investigating. Mariam Khan was later elected as Councillor in Washwood Heath with 6,608 votes, whereas her relative Mr. Azam only managed 1,049 votes as the Council Election was a major success for the Labour Party. Nagina Kauser (Labour) won in Aston, Uzma Ahmed won in Bordesley Green (Labour), Anita Ward (Labour) won in Hodge Hill, Sue Anderson (Lib Dems) won in Sheldon, Mohammad Azim (Labour) won in Sparkbrook, Tahir Ali (Labour) won in Nechells, Zafar Iqbal (Labour) won in South Yardley, Marje Bridle (Labour) won in Shard End, Gurdial Singh Atwal (Labour) won in Handsworth Wood, Mahmood Hussain (Labour) won in Lozells & East Handsworth, Chaman Lal (Labour) won in Soho, Ray Hassall (Lib Dems) won in Perry Barr, Lisa Trickett (Labour) won in Moseley & Kings Heath, Deirdre Caroline Aldren (Conservative) won in Edgbaston, please note this list is not comprehensive. 

Islamic Tenets Concerning Business Transactions

Islam demands a certain type of behaviour from the economic agents – the consumers and the producers. The behaviour prescribed for the economic units of the society are so devised as to lead to a happy state of affairs, which is the ultimate goal of Islam. An Islamic market is characterized by certain norms that take care of the interests of both the buyer and the seller. 

There are a number of rules of ethical discipline in Islamic commercial transactions without which business contract would be regarded as lacking perfection in the light of the code of good manners, decency and ethical excellence. Some of these tenets are as follows:

Keenness to Earn Legitimate (Halal) Earnings
Islam places great emphasis on the code of lawful and unlawful in business transactions. Many Qur’anic verses disapprove the wrongful taking of the property.

Says the Holy Qur’an:

Do not devour one another’s property wrongfully, nor throw it before the judges in order to devour a portion of other’s property sinfully and knowingly. (2:188)

Do not devour another’s property wrongfully – unless it be by trade based on mutual consent. (4:29)

The above verses prohibit the believers in no uncertain terms to devour the property of others by illegal means. The Prophet (saw) endorsed the importance of legitimate ways of earning in the following words:

Asked ‘what form of gain is the best? [the Prophet] said, ‘A man’s work with his hands, and every legitimate sale’. (Ahmad, No: 1576)

From the above it is clear that a Muslim trader must be determined to earn only through legitimate means. He should not only avoid illegitimate means in earning his provisions and livelihood but also distance himself from matters dubious and doubtful. The Prophet (saw) is also reported to have said:

Leave what makes you doubt for things that do not make you doubt. (Tirmidhi, No: 2442)

Things legitimate and illegitimate are clearly defined in Islam and, in between them, are doubtful things, which should be avoided. A true Muslim businessman should be wary of the doubtful things in order to keep himself clear in regard to his faith and his honour because one who falls into doubtful matters is sure to fall into that which is unlawful (Haram). A tradition of the Prophet (saw) states:

A time will come upon the people when one will not care as to how he gets his money whether legally or illegally. (Bukhari, No: 1941)

Foremost among the unacceptable business practices strongly condemned in Islam is Riba. Riba (interest), by definition, is the extra sum the moneylender charges from the borrower for deferred payment. Islam has forbidden all forms of Riba since it involves both oppression and exploitation. Islam strictly forbids this form of tyrannical dealings and condemns it in severe terms. The Holy Qur’an says:

Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury). (2:275)

Devour not Riba doubled and re-doubled. (3:130)

It further states:

O you who believe! fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for usury if you are indeed believers. If you do it not, take notice of war from Allah and his Apostle: but if you turn back you shall have your capital sums; deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly. (2:278)

The Sunnah[2] is equally emphatic in denouncing Riba. The Prophet (saw) is reported to have said:

May Allah send down His curse on the one who devours Riba and the one who pays it and on the two witnesses and on the person writing it. (Ahmad, No: 624)

These and many other verses of the Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet (saw) clearly demonstrate that all those business transactions which involve interest in one form or other, are unlawful in the sight of Islam. According to the Qur’anic teachings there is a clear distinction between genuine business profits and interest; while the former is recommended and desirable, the latter is hated and undesirable.

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