Once More With Passion!

I flail against your indifference,
only to find the constant beating of my fists have broken ground,
struck a path where destiny wills I flow.

No, Mr. Trump, You Are Wrong ! You are so Wrong!

Monolithic is defined as constituting one undifferentiated whole; exhibiting uniformity. I wonder where we get the idea that peoples, nations, notions and ideas could ever be monolithic. Afterall, we may all be American but don’t we have different views, different tastes, different likes and dislikes? Mosques in China have dragons painted on their outside walls, so as to blend in with the surrounding architecture. Worshippers in India’s mosques, on the other hand, would have a heart attack if there were dragons painted anywhere on their mosques. Muslim brides in the Middle East wear white and it’s probably an influence of their European neighbors. Muslim brides in India wear red as do their Hindu friends who are in the majority there. Just as religion is like flowing water and takes on the color of what lies beneath it, as Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah said, everything is influenced, and even altered, in some measure by the environment in to which its introduced. A notion like capitalism is no different. There is a Chinese version, a Latin American version, a Russian version. Given all this proof, I wonder why when we think of people and nations, or ideas, we stubbornly cling to the idea of monolithic groups? Why do we tend to make sweeping generalizations of groups of people? Does it even make sense? So, Mr. Trump, you are wrong. You are just plain wrong when you characterize Muslims as “Islam hates us”. Firstly, Islam is a religion. It is not a person that can hate you. But there are people who, like Trump, believe his Trumpisms, lock, stock and barrel.

Having lived in India, I know only too well, the way Muslim-Hindu riots are engineered come election time. It is easy to win votes and propel oneself in to power by playing on insecurities and finding scape-goats for all the ills that afflict your voters ( both real and imagined ones).

The Myth of Global Ethnic Conflict by John R. Bowen should become required reading for all and sundry, and especially those in foreign policy. A quick, easy read, this article lays bare the myth of Global Conflict. Bowen uses the examples of Rwanda, Indonesia, and Crotia/ Bosnia/ Serbia to illustrate just how politicians were the puppeteers behind these mass killings. However, what is really frightening is how easily we, the common man, can be whipped into a violent frenzy. One theory attributes this willingness to commit heinous acts as a group, when one would never do it as an individual, to herd mentality. Another theory says “violence lets the adrenaline flow; it’s like sex, you live in the moment.”

Just how do stereotypes maintain such a strong hold, despite all the evidence? In the Balkans the tools that were used to do seed animosity were seemingly benign. They included “corporate media networks fostering hysterical public fear, nationalism, and consent for pre-emptive violence”. Hmm…gives one pause and reason to evaluate all that’s on our airwaves, doesn’t it?

So again, just how do stereotypes maintain such a strong hold, despite all the evidence? It’s because some folk stand to gain by sowing the seeds of hate and distrust. It’s because some folk prefer to be intellectually lethargic. And is that the kind of person we want running this country? Someone whose characterizations of a whole people is so misguided and infantile? Mr. Trump, if that’s what you want to see, do go ahead and do just that. Just don’t take the rest of this country down the drain with you. Mr. Trump can continue to view the world as he wishes. For the rest, if there is any interest in the truth, beyond the sound-bites and the ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ headlines that are skewed to ace the ratings game, there are sources and resources galore. In this Presidential election, please don’t settle for Trumpisms. Wouldn’t you agree there is just too much at stake?

Continue the conversation on Twitter. Continue to get to know a Muslim !

Just Plain Done


Just Plain Done

Hello, is it You You're Looking for?

We wrestle for a fleeting reality .
If only we knew
We are alive, truly whole, truly ourselves
only in the crevices of our day.


My heart on your palm,
on a string, tied around your finger
aching to be yours

Only as Real as a Dream

Paths accidentally touching
Creating ripples on the pond
Only to fade into the silence.
Seemingly once so real.
But only as real as a dream. 
And eventually, like a dream, lost to the fog of time?
Thoughts spoken,
Feelings shared,
Words ricocheting in an empty room.
Am I to you, as distant and far away, as if on another planet, as you feel to me? 
The word 'distant memory' taking on a whole new dimension.
I no longer need ask, "Can you hear me now?"
Once #Alwaysforever 
Now #Over&Done

Rock and Roll Jihad ROCKS

For a long time now I’ve believed that it’s easier to go to war with a people whom you know nothing about and can, therefore, simplistically demonize. For that reason alone, I could heartily recommend Salman Ahmad’s beautifully written biography, Rock & Rock Jihad. But Rock and Rock Jihad doesn’t stop there. Its inspiring pages capture the sights and sounds of Lahore, as much as they open a door to the heart and minds of Pakistani’s, especially one proud Pakistani American musician.
Rock and Roll Jihad is the journey undertaken by Salman Ahmad, a household name in South Asia, founder of Asia’s best known rock band, Junoon. With 30 million record sales under his belt, and with fans including Bono and Al Gore, Pakistan born Salman Ahmad is renowned for being the first rock & roll star to attempt to destroy the wall that divides the West and the Muslim world, and India and Pakistan. He has deftly captured the pangs of growing up as an immigrant child, his journey of self-discovery as a musician dedicated to interfaith understanding and peace, while providing readers with both the political and historical context of what ails Pakistan. Speaking on behalf of every Muslim, his book is also a reminder “that the West (needs) to examine the causes of terrorism, not just the symptoms.”

Salman's family lived his middle school and high school years in New York. Here, his days were spent struggling to fit in, learning to play guitar, choosing Led Zeppelin and the Beatles for his hero’s, and knowing he wanted to be a rock star. The memoir is a must-read especially for every young adult caught between two worlds – whether it’s cultural or those pertaining to parental expectations. As a South Asian, I know only too well the expectations that tend to be placed on the young – you can grow up to be a doctor or an engineer and more recently, a lawyer. All else, especially aspirations to be a rock star, means that you are shortchanging yourself, and more importantly your parents. Asian youngsters will be inspired to run with their passions just as Salman Ahmed did, even after he completed medical school. Rock and Roll Jihad also brings precious insights into the thoughts and feelings of those growing up bi-cultural in America or anywhere in the world. ““You people”, my guidance counselor said to me, need to try extra hard to fit in here in America. To her, it was that simple. Conform or be cast out,” he writes And yet, Salman’s story is heartening because it shows how cultural differences are neither rigid nor impermeable.

Upon his family’s return to Pakistan, the teenage Salman created his own underground jihad: his mission was to bring his beloved rock music to an enthusiastic new audience in South Asia and beyond. He started a traveling guitar club that met in private Lahore spaces, mixing Urdu love poems with Casio synthesizers, tablas with Fender Stratocasters, and ragas with power chords, eventually joining his first pop band, Vital Signs. Later, he founded Junoon which was followed to every corner of the world by a loyal legion of fans called Junoonis.

His is the story of battling to hold on to Pakistan’s historic romance with the arts and music, in the face of angry mullahs and oppressive dictators who wanted to dress Pakistan in all hues gray. Despite his government’s attempt to banish music from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Salman Ahmad rocketed to the top of the music charts, bringing Western style rock and pop to Pakistani teenagers for the first time. His band Junoon became the U2 of Asia, a sufi - rock group that broke boundaries and sold a record number of albums.

As his music climbed the charts, Salman found himself the target of religious fanatics and power-mad politicians desperate to take him and his band down. But in the center of a new generation of young Pakistanis who go to mosques as well as McDonald's, whose religion gives them compassion for and not fear of the West, and who see modern music as a "rainbow bridge" that links their lives to the rest of the world, nothing could stop Salman's star from rising.

Just as he has stood up to corrupt politicians in Pakistan, so also he’s critical of the misguided choices of American politicians. “..Bush’s “war on terror” made Pakistani’s view the U.S. as a country to fear or resent for its racial profiling of Muslim-Americans or its torture of Muslims at Guantanamo Bat or Abu Gharib.” This was not the case earlier where America to Pakistani’s was simply the land of opportunity or a place, as Salman’s mother put it, “where people of all colors, cultures and religions could go and fulfill their dreams.”

Carrying a message of hope, of which Salman is an embodiment, the book is suffused with the warmth of spirituality, and its author’s deep-rooted faith in God. “We can only wake up each day and go out and plow the fields, armed with our God-consciousness and a clear awareness of the purpose of our individual life. In my own case, I try to keep the focus on finding common ground through music and teaching,” he writes.

Today, Salman continues to play music and is also a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, traveling the world as a spokesperson and using the lessons he learned as a musical pioneer to help heal the wounds between East and West -- lessons he shares in this illuminating memoir.

Originally published by Common Ground News Service