Mar 20, 2014

It's a New Year in Afghanistan

Happy New Year and Happy Nowruz. In 2010, I wrote an article for CNN explaining how Nowruz is celebrated throughout Afghanistan.
Also, what a happy coincidence that - probably for the first time in the history - Nowruz concurring with two other important, and exciting days: The International Day of Happiness and Spring Equinox.

Here's an excerpt of the article on CNN:
One of most famous of Nowruz traditions among Afghans is to forget and forgive mistakes of one another and start the New Year with new hopes and new goals. During the first three days of the year, families and relatives meet and visit each other’s houses. These are parts of Afghan traditions that date back centuries. For further reading please go the main article.

Mar 19, 2014

A Melody of Hope with Rabab and Nowruz 1993

I published this on my photoblog, and today, I thought, why shouldn't I post it here as well. Well, this headless person who plays this piece of music on Rabab is me. I improvised this melody while I was procrastinating with my homework. I recorded it last year when I was in college and presented it to a friend. I’m a beginner and pardon me for any mistake if you noticed.

Rabab is one of the most respected instruments in Afghanistan and in fact, it was originated in Herat, western Afghanistan, and then spread throughout Indian subcontinent. Those who are familiar with the history of the Mongol Invasion of India, especially, with the Delhi Sultanate in 1200, and the spread of Islamic mysticism through Afghan Sufis, they can understand the influence of this mystic instrument on Indian music as well.

Rabab - though slightly different in shape - is widely used in Indian classical music today, which has also an immense influence on Afghan classical music. It is also a popular instrument in Central Asian countries, namely in Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, though, with different forms, and with a few extra strings.

Rabab is an Arabic word "رباب" rābāb, which is a feminine name, and presumably the name of a peerless beautiful girl who probably lived in Levant. According to the myths, someone who fell in love with Rabab, made an instrument in her name to lament his affliction, and pain through the sounds of a magical, and mystical instrument "Rabab."

Today, Rabab is pronounced differently. For instance, in Pakistan, and India, people pronounce it Robab, Rabob and Rubab. An astute reader of this text should remember that though these names have almost similar sounds, the correct way to pronounce it is “Rābāb” otherwise, it means something else.

Final note:
Happy Nowruz, Happy New Year to all of you! I wish you a prosperous year, filled with health and creativity!

Mar 18, 2014

Rumi Loved Rubab


One of the instruments that constantly comes in Rumi poetry is Rubab. In Rumi's time, Rubab was one of the main instruments that was played in Khanqah (the Sufi lodges). Up to the present time, Rubab remains an influential instrument in Khanqahs, and other Sufi gatherings in Afghanistan.

He probably liked Rubab because of its rhythmic sounds. It produces the sound of ecstasy, it echoes, it bounces, and rebounds, and one can imagine how it would have sounded in a sufi lodge with a high ceiling, and how the sounds and melodies reverberated through the souls of Sufis. 
Here what Rumi says about the sounds of Rubab:

                  "Do you know what the voice of the rabab is saying?
                  Come follow in my steps and find the way;
                  Since through error you’ll discover what’s right,
                  Since through questions you’ll end up with answers."
                                                       Source of translation is unknown, but I got it from here
It is worth mentioning that he also liked flute made of reed. Flute was the most handy, and attainable instrument in his time. No matter, it was played by a goatherd in the desert, or, by a lad in the court, it sounded the same to a mystic. Here what Rumi says about flute.
                "We have fallen into the place
                  where everything is music."
                                                                Translated by Coleman Barks

Mar 11, 2014

Bamiyan Buddha Statues Were Destroyed By Taliban Not Al Qaeda

An uninformed individual might be better respected, and revered than an ill-informed individual who tries to knowingly spread incorrect information based on speculation. An uninformed individual cannot test the plausibility of an assumption, or, claim that is being made in a topic. Moreover, this uninformed individual cannot be blamed for being ill-informed; rather, the source of the misinformation should be blamed.

To be precise, recently, an article was published on The Wall Street Journal which was titled: Afghan Hazaras Emerge as Power Brokers in President Elections. It is well-written, and it is worth reading, but not everything has said is necessarily true. Halfway down the article, you will find this line: “The destruction by al Qaeda of Bamiyan's historic Buddha statues in 2001.”

When I read this, I thought this must be an unintentional mistake. I tweeted the article, a few minutes later, my tweet was retweeted by Nathan Hodge, one of the writers of the piece. Then I tweeted him:
Al Qaeda had no role at the destruction of the of Bamiyan's historic Buddha statues which happened on March 11, 2001. The Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban regime, inspired by their sheer tribal barbaric mindset who not only rejoiced in the destruction of the most ancient historical monuments, but they also glorified themselves by slaughtering thousands of innocents of Shiite Hazaras in Bamiyan, and other cities. Though Al Qaeda were as extreme as the Taliban in their religious belief system, they did not involve themselves in local matters, their main focus of interest was in the United States, and in other western countries. Of course, the Taliban regime did not fail to pay heed to the Al Qaeda advices in some areas, but particularly, not in the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues.

In fact, today is the 13 years anniversary of the destruction of Buddha statues by the Taliban regime, and I posted a photo alongside a short post on my photoblog. One should bother reading a little bit before putting his, or, her pen to paper because we are all responsible toward what we write about people and for people.

Though such mistakes in western media is abundantly describable, I do not see myself in a position to judge, and notice others' mistakes, in this case, count it on my brusqueness, and I appeal for your pardon.

Mar 10, 2014

Why Charisma Is Important In The Afghan Election?

Charismatic quality will be a driving force for candidates for the upcoming presidential election in Afghanistan. A charismatic leader can unite Afghanistan which badly suffers from disunity, while a charismatic leader can also disastrously drive Afghanistan into a complete opposition direction.

In the west, sometimes, a leader does not have to be charismatic. A good example would be Angela Merkel, probably, she is one of the most uncharismatic leaders in the world, but the most powerful women in Europe.  Despite the lack of charismatic quality, she remains the most popular and dominant figure who last year won the third term as a federal leader in Germany. People in Germany complain about her lack of sociability, her outfit and call her ‘boring’ and ‘snoring.’ In 2010, German philosopher Jürgen Habermas complained that modern Germany had a yearning for "charismatic figures who stand above the political infighting."

On the hand, Barak Obama, the most powerful man in the world, is considered one of the most alluring and charismatic leaders in the history of the United States. Before being elected, pundits in America have called Obama a “rock-star,” because of his unique charismatic quality. He is being regarded something as “rare” and “special,” the quality that John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy had. Obama is intelligent and most importantly, he is famous as an eloquent speaker and his rhetoric suffused with passions that is shared by people of all stripes. During his speech, women scream and swoon, and shout at Obama "I love you." None of Obama's predecessors aroused such feelings, even the founding fathers of the United States.

In the developing countries, rally around a leader, is usually takes place when patriotism is enforced by a leader. However, in Afghanistan patriotism is buried by tribalism, religionism, regionalism, and parochialism. But having said that, among the 11 presidential candidates, there are a few who have unique charisma, just enough to rally people around hi,m and win the election.

So, why Afghanistan needs a charismatic leader and why charisma is an important factor, particularly, for an Afghan leader who will replace Hamid Karzai? If you look the word “charisma” in the dictionary, you will get these synonyms: alluring, bewitching, captivating, fascinating, charming, enchanting, engaging, magnetic and seductive.
In the next few posts, I will try to highlight some of the important charismatic quality and skills that Afghan presidential candidates have and have not.

Mar 9, 2014

The Fantasized Dejection

Your day starts with rejection that sinks you deep in dejection. You are being half-hearted, and gradually start depriving your hope. A feeling of desperation, and defeat vapor in you, and fleetingly cloud your sight; despair is the word that you could name it.

But, no, that is not true. I should not feel that way. After all, tomorrow, when the sun rises, I will put on my new shoes, and rise again.

I will forget what befell me, it will not hurt me, and I must remember that this is the beginning of the first season. I blame the malignity of the time, but I have the temerity to challenge the fate, if, there is one. Oh, I must not forget that this is the first chapter; I should note that, in the end, the defeat is an experience toward victory.

Mar 1, 2014

Ashraf Ghani, Promises To Ban Burqa If Elected

Women who participated in Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's presidential campaign in Kabul. The photo is taken from his facebook page
For the first time in the history of Afghanistan, a hope ignited for Afghan women to be totally liberated from sexual oppression, imposed by their men. On Thursday, February 27, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a potential contender for the upcoming Afghan election in April 5, talked to an audience of women who were all in burqas. Under a tight security measure - fearing of women being stolen - the ceremony was held at the Intercontinental Hotel of Kabul and hosted thousands of women from all over Afghanistan.

Wrapped in a khaki Afghan shawl, Ashraf Ghani, emerged with his entourage and went directly to the podium, where a banner proclaimed “tāhāwūl and tādāwūm” (change and continuity). Gazed at his audience while clearing his throat; after resting his elbows on the podium, he started: “Sisters and mothers, you all have endured pains to come to Kabul, and pronounce your support for me,” after a short pause Mr. Ahmadzai continued, “as a servant of you, not as a ruler, I tell you that you will all be liberated, when I am elected a president.”

His voice roused some women from their slumbers. Some were murmuring while some others were quite but anxiously waiting what Mr. Ahmadzai would say to them. Mr. Ahmadzai, spent more than 45 minutes talking about history of western women and how they struggled to obtain their freedom that ultimately resulted to the liberation of their bodies, something that men desire. Everyone seemed bored of his boring long-winded speech; some elder women have already fallen asleep and their deafening snores were reminding of several tanks moving towards the battle field. Worn out of his bombastic speech, almost at the end of his speech, Ashraf Ghani, excitedly took out a piece of paper from his left pocket and after taking a deep breath, and while his right hand still held in the air, he volubly started:
“If I become the president of our motherland, I will issue a decree to ban the burqa that is imposed on you. The central oppression remains in burqa itself, it is a prison, and it clogs up the flowing of thoughts in your brain, which is why people think you are all thoughtless. That is the reason that today, Afghan women are considered by their men as mere chattels: possessions with no rights, and sexual slaves. The reason that you are being treated as sexual slaves, I must say that there is a lack of sex drive in you all, because you all lack libidos, a sexual desire that is important, first, for yourself, and then, for your men. Why? Because it is clear to me that you all hide it under those damn blue burlap sacks, when you walk on the streets, no desire being aroused in men. This is simply a tragedy. What we all have between our legs should sacredly be treated and publically be demonstrated.  Therefore, in order to make a better Afghanistan, I want the women, the 50% of our population, to be part of my team, the “change and continuity.” With this, I mean, I first change you, and then, I continue that change in you."
Ashraf Ghani’s words like aroma of geranium permeated throughout the hall, whiffs of a familiar and unfamiliar smell resided in the limbic system of women who were all in burqas. The impulse of self-attraction and imagination of libido was inflamed in all participants. Under the burqa, some started turning their bodies right and left, then started experiencing twitching and spasming, a small group of them still played with themselves, while some others’ moans have already filled the entire hall.

No one listened and no one knew what Mr. Ahmadzai have said during this time. He left the hall amid magnificent smile and joy pouring from women in burqa onto the floor. One of the Kabul-based newspapers titled the event as “a historic moment for the Afghan women.” Afghan historians simply called it a “turning point” in the history of Afghanistan; while women who took part in the event simply called it the “dawn of Afghan women libido.”