So what is life like in a madrassa? What are the differences to a school in England? Flick through the photos to find out!
We were shown round Pindi by artist and critic Aasim Akhtar. Flick through the gallery to see examples of his artwork!
Born in 1967 in Rawalpindi, Aasim Akhtar is an artist, art critic and curator. He studied English Literature in addition to earning a BA in Design from the National College of Arts, Lahore. He was a curator-in-residence at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan in 2002. His curatorial practice includes An Idea of Perfection: National Exhibition of Photography (2004), The Figurative Impulse (2007), The Nocturnal Song: Interpretations on the Theme of Night (2008), The Line Unleashed (2010), Pachyderm (2010) and Silent Decibels (2010). His writing is published in magazines, catalogues, books and journals, both nationally and internationally, and his art work has been widely exhibited, more recently at Whitechapel Gallery, London, as part of a commemorative show entitled, ‘Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (2010). He is the author of two published books: Regards Croises: Peshawar and The Distant Steppe: Indus Kohistan, and has just finished writing his third, Dialogues with Threads: Traditions of Embroidery in Hazara. He teaches Art Appreciation at Fatima Jinnah Women’s University in Rawalpindi.
Rawalpindi is a mix of architectural influences due to the colourful cultural and religious history of the city. These ancient buildings, a legacy to this rich past, although mostly occupied, are today falling into disrepair. There is not the time, money or inclination to halt their crumbling. This gallery gives a glimpse into the beautiful but neglected old heart of the city.
A gallery of our encounters while exploring the alleys and streets of Rawalpindi. Much of life happens outdoors - men sell their wares or wait by the side of the road with their tools set out in front of them to be contracted for the day. Women on the other hand are less obvious in the bustling streets. We spoke to a few in the alleys, holding children and grinning, curious about a mixed bunch of foreigners outside their family home. All were full of questions and welcoming, while the children happily posed away for the cameras.
Apparently we are living in a secular age when the role of religion seems to be minimizing in day to day affairs. At the same time we cannot deny the fact that hitherto religion is the most important factor in social construction. The penetration of religion is obvious by the surveys conducted in this context. The interest of people towards religion is increasing day by day. This leads us to the conclusion that if we utilize this role for the betterment of society, religion can provide a great service to the humanity. This entirely depends upon the question that what does religion mean to us?
Religion is essentially a metaphysical concept. It purifies the inner self where the bases of human personality develop. This makes a person responsible towards society and answerable towards God. Religion is all about morality. It emphasizes virtues such as honesty, tolerance, sacrifice, truth and accommodation. This is true about each and every religion. Every religion wants to develop a God-oriented personality. In this context they are not contradictory, but supportive to each other. If we look at the Abrahamic tradition, Islam is the last in the sequence. The Prophet of Islam, Mohammad (pbuh), denies many times that He is presenting a new religion. The Holy Quran tells the Prophet (pbuh) that He is guided to the path of those who has gone before.
“Allah doth wish to make clear to you and to guide you into the ways of
Those before you and (He doth wish you) turn to you (in mercy) and Allah
Is all knowing, all wise.” (4:26).
It is unfortunate that religion is being portrayed as a force of destruction and hatred. Although every religion presents itself as ‘the only truth,’ at the same time it gives everyone the right to choose. For example, some claim that Islam is the only religion near God, but the Quran says there is no compulsion regarding the religion.
“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.
Whoever rejects Tagut, and believes in Allah hath grasped the most
Trustworthy hand hold that never breaks and Allah heareth and knoweth
All things.” (2:256).
It shows that the believers of all religions can live together in harmony and peace. A pluralist society is not against the teachings of a religion if it allows the adherents of every religion to act upon the teachings of their own religion. Some minority groups try to distort the teachings of religion when they make the religion a symbol of hatred. They corrupt the verses of the sacred texts and give them the meanings of their own choice.
As a Muslim, Islam means to me a religion which assures me the salvation in the Hereafter and teaches me to live a life beneficial to the entire humanity by practicing what God commands me through His last Prophet (pbuh). It forbids me to affront the gods of others which may provoke them to say something unpleasant about my God, the Creator of this world. (6:108). This understanding of religion is a blessing to humanity, not a curse.
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