All ye who dared to ask


Your queries finally answered

A close friend recently gave up on his ambition of starting his dream magazine. He had worked on the concept for months, painstakingly planning all sections of the magazine in meticulous detail. Lack of financial resources remained the only source of worry. Some friends had graciously pledged monetary assistance, not one of whom ultimately chose to honour his promise. Consequently, the monthly will never see the light of day.

When my friend had come to me for help, I could not promise any cash owing to a temporary financial crisis, then in its twentieth year. However, my intellectual services were sincerely offered and gratefully accepted by my friend, who asked me to manage the all important Q&A section. For the inaugural edition, volunteers had laboriously collected questions, mainly from students; and it was hoped that the success of the magazine would ensure a sustained influx of queries for subsequent issues. However, by the time I finished answering questions, my friend had already seen the writing on the wall. Now that the bigger project has failed, I have decided to present those answers here. My friend and I believe that that’s the least we owe the questioners. Although first person plural has been used to impart the necessary gravitas to answers, of course it’s just me (or is it I?).

Q. Mashallah and Martial Law sound very much alike. Are they connected?

A. Intimately. All successful martial laws owe their success to the grace of God.

Q. Bhai jaan is of the opinion that in the worst-case scenario in a war with India, we can always retreat to Afghanistan and resort to gorilla warfare from there. I find it reassuring, but with quickly depleting jungles in Afghanistan, will we really be able to fight a gorilla war out of that country?

A. Your bhai jaan is quite right. And it’s guerrilla, not gorilla, warfare; so don’t lose sleep over the Afghan deforestation.

Q. The Pak Sarzameen Party was an absolute godsend for the people of Karachi. But do you think it will be able to completely right the wrongs of the MQM?

A. For the most part, yes; although some residual wrongs should reasonably be expected; nothing, however, that a Kishwar-e-Haseen Party cannot take care of.

Q. I am a bachelor toying with the idea of marriage. But one thing perturbs me no end: Why are women sometimes referred to as the fair sex, when there are many men who have a fairer complexion than the average woman? Also, isn’t it reverse-sexism? With these questions unanswered, I am not sure I can get married in peace.

A. We strongly recommend not postponing holy matrimony. You will start understanding these things within six months of married life.

Q. There’s this girl that I adore, and am sure I cannot live without. Recently when I made my feelings known to her, she said that we will remain friends forever. What does that mean?

A. That means that she finds you unattractive, or she loves somebody else. Most probably, it’s both.

Q. Was it all right for Allama Iqbal to start his famous couplet, ‘Tun diye baad e mukhaalif…’ with a Punjabi word, an indecent one at that?

A. Hailing from Sialkot, Iqbal had every right to use Punjabi. Interestingly, we don’t recall anyone complaining about his extravagant use of Arabic. That said, this couplet is not Iqbal’s. Also, Tundiye (one word) is Urdu, meaning ‘ferocity of’.

Q. It is said that Urdu borrows heavily from Farsi. I have strong reasons to dispute this. Ganj, for example, which means ‘treasure’ in Iran, is almost too impolite to mention in the company of bald men here. I am confused. Please help.

A. Just visualise the Sharif brothers and you will be able to reconcile the difference.

Q. My brother-in-law is a fan of Zaid Hamid. He often says that only a khalifa can satisfactorily solve our problems. Can you tell me how? He won’t explain to me; my folks think I am only a kid.

A. An overweight former wrestler belonging to an akhaara is lovingly referred to as a khalifa. He can be found uttering obscenities, usually lying on a chaarpayi, wearing precious little. Despite trying hard, we fail to see how such a person can be the cure of our ills. If you manage to get the answer, please educate us.

Q. Please explain this text from Ibn Arabi: ‘As there is a connection between that which has an individual existence and that which does not have one and it is a non-existent relationship so the connection of existents to each other is easier to conceive because, in any case, there is a common factor between them, which is individual existence.

A. We concur with you.

Q. A young cousin is behaving very strange lately. For example, he calls opening batsmen ‘salaami balle baaz’; says ‘Mai aap se sehmat hoon,’ when he wants to signal agreement; and words like jeejajee, janta, and bhrastachar are among his everyday lexicon. Surprisingly, he hardly ever watches any Bollywood movies. What do you think is the matter with him?

A. How much Geo is he watching? We recommend strict rationing.

Q. Ever since I can recall, Pakistan has been passing through a critical phase of its life. When can this be expected to change?

A. We don’t presume to know the future, but it is likely that the critical phase of Pakistan will continue till kingdom come or the death of the solar system, whichever comes last.

Q. Up until very recently my brother was all right. But now all his conversations are a relentless barrage of jazakallah, salah, zakah, inshallah, shariah, ummah, ma’azallah, bid’ah, wallah; and one hardly ever knows what his point is. Please suggest a remedy.

A.What else can we say but, ‘Inna lillah’?

Q. I took a break from work for the sake of marriage and children, and what with one thing or another, the break now stands at a decade and a half long. Now that I want to go back to work, the prospective employers reject me because of the gap in my employment history. To tell you the truth, I also feel rusty and lacking in confidence when it comes to my major, journalism. Please suggest what to do.

A. Convince your prospective employers that fifteen years of dealing with the husband and especially the in-laws have made you a master in politics, which makes you uniquely qualified as a political analyst.

Q. I have heard that before the Day of Judgment there will be Muslim domination all over the world. Is it true?

A. We are not in the prophecy business. However, we will be very surprised if anything less than the Judgment Day is triggered by a worldwide Muslim domination. Most Muslims will settle for nothing less.


  1. Interesting read, Hasan! It requires faculty of imagination, acumen to conceive illustrative ideas that are relating to senses and realities, and in your young age, as I judge from your pic, you exhibit plenty of these faculties. Keep at it!

Comments are closed.