Thursday, 31 March 2016

In Defence of the "Mullah" "Maulvi" and the "Maulana"

Recent religiously motivated protests across Pakistan made visible a new breed of mostly bearded protestors who knowingly or unknowingly were caught on camera using the filthiest possible language full of unthinkable profanities directed at the government officials and those who do not agree with their political views. Videos recordings of these foul tirades have hit the social and other digital media and there is an uproar among general educated decent people at the ascent of this new breed of so called "Mullahs". This brings me to the point of this post - these foul mouthed characters are not Mullahs!

Not every person sporting a beard is a Maulana, Mullah, or Maulvi. Not every Madrassa (religious school) in Pakistan is a breeding ground for extremism. The two symbols of virtuous Islam have been hijacked in Pakistan by a large majority of failed-every-where-else-in-life morons with tacit approval of self serving religious establishment, political opportunists, and military dictators.

These people do not have a right to represent Islam in no way form or shape. Ordinary decent people need to take that right away from them. While showing and commenting on there deeds, views, and language we should not give them the status of representatives of Islam by calling them Maulvis, Mullahs, Maulanas, Ashiqan-e-Rasool, religious protestors. They are none of these. Semantics matter when presenting a narrative.

There is also a dire need for real Ulama-e-Deen (religious scholars) to take note of this, come forward, and not be swept away by the lure of street power through thugs.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

#PrayforLahore Candlelight Vigil at Consulate General of Pakistan Manchester

Cowardly terrorist atrocity on Easter Sunday evening of 2016 at a children park Gulshan-e-Iqbal Allama Iqbal Town in Lahore left over 70 children, women and men dead and scores injured.

A candlelight vigil was organised by citizens in the North West of the UK to show solidarity with the victims and mourn the unnecessary loss of life. I was humbled by the number of people from across different religious, ethnic and national backgrounds who attended despite terrible weather conditions. Councillor Paul Murphy OBE Lord Mayor of Manchester, Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner and interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, Rt.Hon. Sajjad Haider Karim MEP and many other representatives joined in a message of common grief and resolve that terrorism will not break us apart as a community.

It was a sobering ceremony conducted by Sajid Qazi Community Welfare Consular,  and Consul General Dr Zahoor Ahmed in Manchester.

Tony Lloyd's words sum up what every speaker at the vigil iterated:
“The Easter terrorist attacks in Lahore were reprehensible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We think also of those who have been injured and those who witnessed this terrible attack, many of whom are children.

From Greater Manchester, to Brussels, to Lahore, we are all part of one, great global community.

We share the heartbreak of those who are mourning today, we reach out a hand of friendship and solidarity, and we send a message of hope and strength.

That message is simple – those who seek to divide us through fear and violence will never succeed. Together we are stronger than the terrorists will ever be.”

Aftermath of the explosion in Lahore

Mr Iqbal Siddiqui of Pakistan Community Centre Manchester lighting the candles

Amna Ahmed, a member of civil society in Timperley along with a large number of ladies attended the vigil

Tony Lloyd interim Mayor of Manchester and Police and Crime Commissioner, Consul General Pakistan Dr Zahoor Ahmed, Sajjad Haider Karim MEP<  Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester, Father FalakShair 

Counsellor Naeem-ul-Hassan, ex Lord Mayor of Manchester lighting the candles
Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester and Dr Zahoor Hassan Consul General of Pakistan in Manchester
Counsellor RabNawaz Akbar lighting the candles 

Tony Lloyd Police and Crime Commissioner and interim Mayor of Manchester speaking to the audience

Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester addressing the audience

Sajjad Haider Karim MEP addressing the audience

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Attack on Junaid Jamshed - Violence is never the answer

The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Junaid Jamshed might be a misogynistic moron and many of his views abhorrent for liberal feminists and religious fanatics alike, but to direct physical violence at him to show your dislike is stone age attitude - and that is where exactly the land of pure is heading to if the goons at the Islamabad airport are not arrested and prosecuted.

But, when a society, and nation commits Harakiri rule of law is the first thing to evaporate.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Marple Locks - a great place for a family day out

A photo diary of a beautiful walk down the Marple Locks. Sixteen locks raise the canal by 209 feet over the course of about a mile. Right next to Marple Town centre this is a gem of a place for family walks with well maintained paths and picnic spots on the way.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Help Educate Girls in Pakistan - Zarina Shamim Scholarship Program (ZSSP)

A recent report on state of education in Pakistan titled “25 Million Broken Promises” highlights that there are currently 25 million boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 16 who are not in school. Girls make up more than half of all out of school children.

Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women. It is also an area that offers some of the clearest examples of discrimination women suffer. An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence that she needs to be a better parent, worker and citizen. Cost of education and poverty are two key reasons among many barriers to girls education.

While the State has failed to provide universal education facilities to all its citizens, private and charitable educational institutions are doing sterling work to fill the gap. One such great example is the Ala-ud-Din Academy Girls High School and the Zarina Shamim Scholarship Programme. I reproduce below an email from Zareen Niazi, Executive Director of the school highlighting the achievements so far and inviting everyone to join in and help.

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing to request your support and active participation in our Zarina Shamim Scholarship Program (ZSSP) to help young women in Pakistan attain higher, as well as professional education. 

Since ZSSP’s inception in 2007, we have grown to successfully fund 81 scholarships for young women to attend college, university and even professional education.  This has been a wonderful journey for me personally, and I have seen first-hand the benefits that education can bring to young women with so much potential.   Yet, while we are making a small difference in our country, the number of young women who cannot afford higher education in Pakistan continues to increase.

I am pleased to inform you that our very first two scholarship holders from the first batch of ZSSP have completed their medical degrees.  First young woman is Umm e Rubab, who graduated fromKing Edward Medical College, Lahore and second is Hira Nasser who has graduated from Alama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore.  Both have now started their house jobs. 

Several other scholarship holders have now completed their B.Sc. (Honors) degrees and are working and helping their families financially. 

Currently, we are paying 81 (eighty one) girls for their college, university and professional education.  In addition, there are about 80 students of our school and 15 (fifteen) students of Computer Technology Center are being supported by ZSSP. 

I have seen first-hand that young women have much more meaningful lives once they are empowered financially, physically and emotionally. We believe that ZSSP has the great opportunity to empower many more women to achieve their potential in making a profound difference in their lives and communities.

The Matric result for the year 2014-15 is due at the end of July 2015.  Currently, we are interviewing girls who have been short-listed and recommended by our Scholarship Committee.  Final selection of winners will be made after the Matric result.  There is huge potential and we hope that the number of students, with college education scholarships, will further go up with your generous support. 
We are thankful for your continued support and hope that your contributions will keep flowing.  You can help by:

  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.2500/- (U$ 25/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books and stationery expenses.
  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.3000/- (U$ 30/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books, stationery and a bag.
  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.3500/- (U$ 35/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books, stationery, bag and two uniforms.
  1. Sponsoring a girl for college education by donating Rs.6000/- (U$ 60/-) per month or Rs 72,000/- (U$ 720/-) per year.  This includes tuition fee, books and stationery expenses.  
  1. Contributing any amount to ZSSF for girls' school, college and / or university education.
  1. Creating a scholarship in the name of someone whom you want to recognize and honor.  This will be one time payment as seed money.  The money to start such a scholarship is Rs. 500,000/- (U$ 5000/-)  
  • Donating through our website via PayPal and Major Credit Cards.
  • Making donations via cross checks - in the name of "ALDA - Zarina Shamim Scholarships Fund"
  • Depositing your donations directly in the following accounts: 
  • Mailing your donation checks to Ala-ud-Din Academy, 114 Danyal Street, Pakistani Bazaar, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan; Tel:  +92-42-36848061, +92-42-36841594
Payments can be made by:

Bank Al Habib Ltd., G.T. Road, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan
Account Name: ALDA - Zarina Shamim Scholarship Fund
Account #:  0047 0081 000355 01 4 

BOP, G.T Road, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan   
Account Name: Ala-ud-Din Academy - Scholarship Endowment Fund 
Account #: 4294126-0830047: 0060180008

Please visit our website for further information on ALDA and ZSSP; &  

To view photos of Scholarship Function - September 2014, please click the link below;

Please share this information with your friends, family, colleagues and supporters who may want to contribute to this cause.

I look forward to your help, time and financial support. It will make a huge difference!

Best regards,

Zareen Niazi
Executive Director
Ala-ud-Din Academy, Girls' High School

Cell; +92 333 4672177

This is a worthy cause so please join in and contribute as much as you can.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Donate safely this Ramadan - Check your charity before you give

According to reports Muslims in the UK donated over 100 million to charities last Ramadan. This was a conservative estimate that did not include donations to local mosques, private charity and donations to non-Muslim charities.

Unfortunately, not every penny given for charity reaches the deserving. Whilst most of the charities are legitimate and work hard to make your charitable pennies work harder, there are those who do not hesitate to exploit the generosity of others even in this holy month.

Charity Commission in the UK have listed the following top ten tips to help you make the right choice when donating your money for the good causes.
Presence of a Registered Charity number on a website/brochure/letter from a charity is not evidence that a charity is legitimate. Please check the charity's name and registration number against the online charity search tool.
  1. Before giving, check the charity's name and registration number against the online charity search tool: Find a charity - register of charities
  2. Fundraisers require a licence from the local authority (or the Police in London) to collect in a public place. Check that they have this. If the collection is in a privately owned place, check that they have the owner's permission.
  3. When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.
  4. If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
  5. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity's name, registered name and a land-line contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
  6. Make sure when you give to radio and television appeals that the process is secure. Ofcom lists the rules for radio and television charity appeals on its website: Licensing - Ofcom website
  7. Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity's website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your chosen charity to check you have the right web address. For further guidance see: Guidance for donors - Get Safe Online
  8. Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.
  9. After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and inform the Charity Commission: Action Fraud - Police
  10. Don't be pressurised to give to a collection immediately. If in any doubt, donate directly to charity.
Charity's Commission has also produced this very useful video to help avoid giving your charity to wrong people and charities.