Gather around the campfire, #MuslimGirlClique, as we countdown to Halloween with the spookiest stories our girl gang has to offer! Check back on the daily to jump in fright to a new story every day… Now, this story happened in London when I was 17. […]
Over the past few months, the world watched in horror as a brutal family separation policy adopted by the U.S government tore children away from the arms of their desperate parents. Recently, the Chinese government began to implement a similar strategy. In early August this […]
Gather around the campfire, #MuslimGirlClique, as we countdown to Halloween with the spookiest stories our clique has to offer! Check back on the daily to jump in fright to a new story every day…
The story below is based on alleged true events that transpired in the winter of 2002 in Karachi, Pakistan.
Deep in the suburbs of Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, nestled between two tiny hills in ‘Defense Phase 4,’ lies a forgotten cemetery entrenched with forgotten souls. In a city whose population now unofficially kisses the 25 million mark, Gizri Graveyard is, for the most part, a nondescript cemetery situated in the upscale neighborhood near the Clifton Cantonment and Defense Housing Authority in Karachi. The graveyard’s long-term ‘visitors’ mostly consist of grandparents who have died of old age, or inescapable diseases.
There is one grave in particular, though, that lies high up along the south hill, which belonged to a young woman who died under mysterious and inexplicable circumstances. It is thought that she killed herself after hearing of the news that her husband and three children died on a weekend fishing trip along the coast of the city’s most famous beach – Hawke’s Bay. Her body was found on the roof of their two-story house one night, after neighbors complained of an odd smell, and the constant racket of crows and eagles congregating on the roof. It is said that she was lying on her back, with her eyes gouged out, clutching a family portrait – her own face seemingly having been etched out with a knife that lay by her side.
Many years had passed since that episode, the story forgotten and her house inhabited by another family of two. Life progressed as normal for the new home-owners. It wasn’t until one chillingly cold night in the winter of 2002, where a series of eerie events took place.
It is customary in the suburbs of Karachi for every neighborhood to have a ‘Night Guard,’ or ‘Chowkidar’ as they are referred to locally. The duty of the Chowkidar is to ride around the neighborhood on a bicycle, in the dead of night, blowing briefly on a whistle every few minutes to alert people of their presence. The thought behind this is to deter people from potentially committing crimes by constantly reminding people of his presence. On this fateful night, at around 2:30 am, there was a loud, prolonged, and urgent whistle from the Chowkidar on duty, which seemed to last around two solid minutes. Several people appeared on their front porches and driveways, night suits and all, awoken by this abnormal sound, perturbed, confused, and staring at one another, as if to maybe unearth a clue which the other might have.
Strangely enough, as he emerged from the fog, he disappeared on the other side of the street, his screams fading away into the cold night.
Suddenly, a man was heard in the distance, shouting “Bhaago (run)!,” over and over. His voice got clearer and louder, and suddenly he emerged from the light fog, as if his body was on fire. He raced down the street, not even caring to look back in case it slowed him down. Strangely enough, as he emerged from the fog, he disappeared on the other side of the street, his screams fading away into the cold night. Following him not too far behind was the Chowkidar on duty – they had never seen anyone ride a bicycle at that pace.
The Chowkidar careened down the street, pedaling with such ferocity that had he gone any faster, he may well have achieved liftoff. Halfway down the street, he lost control and crashed into a large tree on which happened to be the very house where the young woman was found on the roof. Concerned, the neighbors ran towards him to see if he was alright.
“Mein ne abhi apney aankhon sey Sheitaan ko dekha hai!” (I have just seen the Devil with my own eyes).
When they got reached the Chowkidar, they realized he was badly hurt, blood gushing down the right side of his face from the impact with the tree. He was mumbling incoherently, and shaking violently. When he finally calmed down, he told the people that had gathered around him – “Mein ne abhi apney aankhon sey Sheitaan ko dekha hai” (I have just seen the Devil with my own eyes). He told the crowd that he had just witnessed a body exhume itself from a grave, and float off towards a nearby house. He started to cry and whimper, and then his eyes rolled back into his head, and he passed out. A few brave men decided to investigate, before tending to the Chowkidar. They called the police, and instructed them where to meet. By the time the men had rendezvoused back at the tree, they noticed the Chowkidar was missing.
With a few emergency lights in hand, a group of four men headed in the direction where the two crazed men fled from.
They did not have to venture very far. Just a few hundred feet from their neighborhood, they came upon the gates of the graveyard. They had never felt so cold in their lives. It was clear that something was wrong. There was a set of trees that had unnaturally swayed to one side, with bits of bark hanging off the side, as if exposed to the blast of a grenade. They ventured inside, and surely enough, one of the graves had been completely uprooted. The tomb was completely splintered beyond recognition.
They walked in the direction of where the disturbance seemed to be headed. Surely enough, just as the Chowkidar had described, there was a nearby house – it’s front door blown off it’s hinges, and lay discarded on the side of the front lawn. Two of the men could not deal with this, they took one of the emergency lights and headed back, stating that this was a case for the police. However, the other two men decided to venture towards the house and find out what had happened.
As they reached the hallway upstairs, they started to hear a faint sound – a repetitive, deep, low hum, almost as if someone was meditating.
As they approached the house, they noticed a strange red glimmer of light emanating from the second story, pulsating as though with the beat of a steady heart. The house seemed unoccupied, with the furniture all draped in white cloth, as if the owners were away for a long holiday. They looked at each other, took a deep breath, and headed upstairs, one agonizing step at a time. As they reached the hallway upstairs, they started to hear a faint sound – a repetitive, deep, low hum, almost as if someone was meditating. They realized that the source of the light was from one of the bedrooms across the hall.
As they approached the room, the low rumbling hum seemed to abruptly stop, replaced by sounds of something being scratched against a wall. By this time, the low red light also seemed to dissipate – the only light left was from the single emergency light held between the two men. They opened the door, but the emergency light seemed only to reveal a slightly ruffled bed – the single piece of furniture in the room. One of the men reached toward the light switch and, after hesitating for a few seconds, flipped it on. The two men have never forgotten what they saw that night.
In the center of the room, was a bed that was covered in a pool of blood. Directly above the bed, wedged in the ceiling, was the body of a naked young woman facing downward – her eyes were gouged out, blood dripping steadily from the deep black sockets. Her abdomen was completely split apart, and hundreds of ring-bodied cockroaches were slowly scuttling across the ceiling and onto the walls.
The two men ran for their lives, dropping the emergency light in process. They did not care to pick it up as they fled back down the cemetery and towards their street. They happened to run into a couple of police officers who were on their way to the crime scene, and told them everything they saw.
The next day, the police officers filed their report. The only thing they noted was the broken emergency light they found at the foot of the staircase.
To this day, the whereabouts of the Chowkidar are unknown.
Editor’s note: If you have a spooky story you’d like to share with us, email us at email@example.com, and we may just feature you!
Imagine living in a world that allows you to express your emotions without judgment because you’re a woman. Imagine living in a world that doesn’t tell you how to act, dress, or think because you’re a woman. Sorry to burst your bubble ladies, because that […]
Gather around the campfire, #MuslimGirlClique, as we countdown to Halloween with the spookiest stories our girl gang has to offer! Check back on the daily to jump in fright to a new story every day… You know that feeling when you awaken to consciousness from […]
By Danish Qasim
We have unfortunately created a culture of praise where we vouch for someone’s piety without truly knowing them. We see fan pages for teachers and social media comments loaded with praise from people who do not truly know them. We also have a tendency to see someone’s work or their positive results as proof of piety.
Though we should presume innocence and have a good opinion of our brothers and sisters in Islam, piety is a special station that needs to be proven. Piety is not the same as a general blank slate and positive opinion. We have to do our part of not creating a culture where teachers or scholars become so revered that abuse is unfathomable, or when we do learn of abuse we just say ‘no one is infallible’ to minimize cases of truly predatory abuse.
We need to come to terms with the reality that shaykhs can be abusers. In some cases when we hear of spiritual abuse we attempt to comfort ourselves that it was not perpetrated by a ‘real shaykh.’ Or we may tell ourselves that the abuse was the doing of a daai (preacher) or someone who is called shaykh, but would not be considered a scholar in the Muslim world. Or we may tell ourselves that this person has a lot of knowledge, but lacks suhba (companionship) of a true shaykh, and thus did not take the means to spiritually develop along with his knowledge.
Though the above self-assurances are sometimes true, how do we handle a situation when the perpetrator is a ‘real’ shaykh? That is, someone born and raised among scholars and saints of the highest caliber, someone who memorized the Quran as a child, then memorized books of law, Arabic, logic, tasawuf, and exemplified the highest level of understanding, and was authorized to teach—what then?
One real-life example is a shaykh of tariqa, a path of spiritual learning, who is certified through an authentic chain and is a scholar of the outward sciences. His offenses include telling women he is their spiritual father and can be in khalwa -forbidden seclusion- with them, that they don’t need to wear hijab around him, and that he can touch them. He also conducted exorcisms “requiring” touching of their breasts. This issue was brought up to scholars of the locale who fortunately refuted the scholar’s false assertions.
Another shaykh pressured his student, who was seeking religious advice from him, for a secret marriage, saying he is her spiritual father and she should just submit to him. He pressured her to not tell her parents or his wife. Ultimately she did not marry him.
These examples are from shayukh who are very knowledgeable, fit global standards of scholarship, and were extremely respected as pious people. Their knowledge equipped them with loopholes to bend the law, and their status created the cover to lie and invent exceptions for themselves. The abuse was hidden from the larger community and difficult to believe at first for others.
When we see high-level scholars abusing their position, rather than avoiding the reality that “true scholars” can be abusers, we should return to the warnings of the Prophet about the evil scholars and insincere preachers. Witnessing corruption amongst scholars and preachers should increase our faith because we are witnessing a phenomenon he explained.
This leads to a few questions:
Is the knowledge conveyed by abusers tainted?
The simple answer is no. The feeling of knowledge being tainted is a negative association.
There is a natural association established between knowledge learned and the one who taught that knowledge. This is supposed to be a positive association and it is why we emphasize learning with righteous teachers, in their company, in hopes that students benefit from the character and spiritual state of the teacher. The mother of Imam Malik would tell him to take from his teacher’s forbearance before taking from his knowledge. Studying with teachers who are pious and role models is the Islamic ideal.
Just the gift of not seeing your teacher’s flaws helps magnify the knowledge learned by them. Imam Nawawi would give sadaqah in the form of dua just to not see any blemish in his teacher.
Unfortunately when a teacher lives a double life of contradicting the morals he espouses in public, many can’t help but reflect that hypocrisy back on the knowledge itself. This devalues knowledge. A common sentiment to those who looked up to such teachers is “what’s the point of learning if this is what people do when they have knowledge?”
A common sentiment to those who looked up to such teachers is “what’s the point of learning if this is what people do when they have knowledge?”
Others have been unable to separate their relationship with an abusive teacher and their relationship with Allah. In cases of children molested by Quran teachers, I know of instances where the Quran is a trigger. This is a tragedy—the recitation which is supposed to remind one of God, have one listen attentively out of awe, joy, and reverence triggers the trauma of sexual assault.
One scholar and close teacher of mine told me that he remembers being beaten as a child during his Quran memorization for having difficulty with certain short chapters. He says that 40 years later, he sometimes has flashbacks of being hit when he recites those verses.
A few sisters have told me that when a qari (reciter) with beautiful Quranic recitation pursued them for illicit relationships, they didn’t want to listen to the Quran anymore and that it would just remind them of the qari.
So although these negative associations are very real and have long-term impacts on learners, they must be separated from the knowledge itself. Just as one must work to separate between the two, those able to should work towards removing an abusive teacher from a position of influence.
For example, if one learned Arabic from an openly sinning Muslim teacher, the language the student learned remains Arabic. The teacher’s fallen credibility must be seen independently of Islam’s credibility… What matters for the soundness of the knowledge is whether or not it was taught and learned properly.
As the hadith Shaykh Rami mentions in this video illustrates, knowledge that is not practiced upon by the scholar may still benefit others to the point of their entrance to Paradise while the scholar who taught it and did not practice went to hell. This is a clear example of knowledge not being tainted by contradiction, lack of practice, or outright hypocrisy.
As Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “Know men by the truth, and not the truth by people. If you know the truth, you know its people.”
Is the ijaaza valid?
I asked this question to Dr. Omar Qureshi, who told me that his own teacher told him that if an ijaaza was given by a teacher before his fisq (corruption) was known, then the ijaaza is valid. This holds true for an ijaaza in a science or text as well as in sulook (spiritual guidance). One should not continue studying with the teacher and it is advisable for the person to seek an ijaaza from another qualified teacher.
What should one do when they see abusive behavior?
Students should leave such teachers and immediately look for alternatives. If one is capable— can reasonably anticipate being believed and not create a bigger problem— it would be good to also warn others, even if this is a small segment that may be receptive.
Generally, we should interact with teachers as we would with a teacher of any other subject. Although the knowledge itself is sacred, there is no more of a need to take a fiqh or aqeedah teacher as a role model than there is to take a biology teacher as a role model. Just as one can respect a biology teacher and learn from him without concern for his personal life, it’s prudent in our time to learn the same way from our Islamic teachers.
Lastly, even pious people can make mistakes; no one is protected from sin except for the prophets. Everyone is struggling with the same enemies – nafs, hawa’, shaytan, and dunya – and while spiritual training might make the best shaykhs rise above those enemies, it is no guarantee that they will remain that way. There are plenty of stories of saints and scholars stumbling and even falling from the path. The goal of this deen is to take from scholars in our pursuit of Allah , not in the pursuit of those same scholars. We may admire and love them, but our souls are in our own hands and we need to prioritize that over everything else. It is Allah we should be drawing nearer to, and these teachers should only serve as human conduits of learning.
So although the teacher’s hypocrisy or abuse does not invalidate the knowledge, we must understand the reality of negative associations created by such behavior. The fact that the knowledge benefits serves as no excuse for the teacher to maintain a platform for teaching the deen. Inversely, teachers who create a positive experience for students play a vital role in developing Love for Allah and His religion that may last a lifetime.
In case you’ve been living under an American-centric rock: recreational weed was legalized across Canada on October 17 (now affectionally and unofficially dubbed “Weed is Legal” Day). When I opened my eyes this past Wednesday morning, I was greeted by a storm of “Happy Legalization” […]
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Pakistan is one of three countries in the world which hasn’t yet been able to end the transmission of Poliomyelitis (Polio). Polio is a endemic viral infection that leaves its victims paralyzed, and as of 2015, 38 cases of Polio were reported in Pakistan alone. Whilst reported cases of Polio are declining, Pakistan is still considered to hold the record for the highest number of Polio cases.
Many factors result in Polio cases yearly. Whilst some parents refuse to vaccinate their kids, other factors include poor health and water infrastructure, natural disasters, and misinformed campaigns reporting that vaccinations contain pig fat or alcohol, both items which are forbidden in Islam.
Additionally, due to high population density and climate conditions, more doses of vaccinations are required and some parents are unable to administer the ten or more doses of the vaccine, as required.
Pakistan is currently taking action to combat the spread of Polio. More than 38 million children under the age of five years have been vaccinated after the country-wide immunization campaign. People are also creating programs to allow those who have been affected by Polio to still be able to gain economic independence.
On Monday, the ‘Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities Pakistan’, (NOWPDP) launched ‘The Rickshaw Project’. NOWPDP’s External Engagement Manager, Amin Amir Andani, said their organization focuses on providing individuals affected by Polio with vocational training and thus, economic empowerment. In 2017, NOWPDP was able to provide 350 individuals with vocational training, a commendable feat!
Owing to this success, and the receptiveness of Pakistanis to the work that NOWPDP does, ‘The Rickshaw Project’ was launched to provide economic empowerment for differently-abled people. This specific project offers people special hand-controlled rickshaws.
Mohammad Imran, Chief Rickshaw Driver for ‘The Rickshaw Project’, visits neighborhoods looking for differently-abled people like himself, and spreads awareness about the opportunities NOWPDP has to offer. “Polio in childhood left me crippled. People thought I was good-for-nothing, but I had to prove them wrong,” claimed Imran. Additionally, he has worked with a rickshaw manufacturing company to modify rickshaws for differently-abled individuals, adding his unique perspective to ensure that the modified rickshaws meet the exact needs of those they are being designed for.
Through this minimal-cost, modified rickshaw project, NOWPDP hopes to empower individuals like Mohammad Amin economically, and mentally, so that one day, Polio and the fear of the Polio vaccine may come to an abrupt and screeching halt.
The projects current business model is structured so that these modified rickshaws are leased out for PKR200 ($1.70) per day. Ultimately, the individuals leasing the rickshaws will become the owners.
As indicated earlier, there are a host of reasons why Pakistan has been unable to eradicate Polio. A lack of real facts on the disease and it’s vaccine, as well as a lack of funds have ensured that Polio continues to ravage Pakistanis, although to a lesser degree than before. Whilst there are programs in place to tackles the aforementioned issues, Andani hopes that ‘The Rickshaw Project’ will change the lives of those who weren’t able to avoid contracting Polio. Through this minimal-cost, modified rickshaw project, NOWPDP hopes to empower individuals like Mohammad Amin economically, and mentally, so that one day, Polio and the fear of the Polio vaccine may come to an abrupt and screeching halt.
It is with a heavy heart that we share this tragic news about two young Muslim women who went missing in Chaska, Minnesota this past weekend. As cousins, and best friends, they tended to take their breaks together from their respective workplaces, and it seems […]