Monthly Archives: May 2017

Recent events in Afghanistan

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Dear readers, wishing you a very happy Wednesday from the Barakat Team.

Although Ramadan is meant to be a month of peace and spirituality, in the last two years with worsening conflict in the Muslim world, Ramadan has become a month of violence and bloodshed. On May 26th, there was a Taliban attack on a military base in the Kandahar Province. This attack left 15 or more Afghan soldiers dead. On May 27th, at least 18 people were killed by a suicide car bomber that attacked Afghan police providing security to US forces in easter Afghanistan. The casualties included civilians – women and children – who were in the area at the time of the attack. The attack took place in the Adraskan district of Herat. The deadliest attack of them all took place on May 31st, where a truck bomb blast on Wednesday killed at least 80 people and wounded more than 300 in Kabul. Officials describe  the bombing as one of the biggest to have hit the Afghan capital and witnesses describe the blast as an “earthquake.” This is especially concerning because the area is under high-level security, and insurgents are consistently managing to get around that. For the time being no definitive responsibility has been taken by any insurgent entity and no evidence of who conducted the attack has been presented, but someone will definitely take responsibility in the next few days. Naturally, the Taliban immediately denied responsibility, for they would not want people to question their Islamic values and stance, especially since an attack of this size during Ramadan would really diminish their popularity. On the other hand ISIL does not have the capacity nor the resources or influence in Afghanistan to conduct such an attack of this magnitude but may claim the attack in a shower of power. Finally, the real long-term concern is that the Afghan government seems to be failing in terms of security, and a lack of strategic intelligence and leadership has made it easy for insurgents to conduct these kinds of attacks.

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What is Ramadan?

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Good morning from Cambridge, Massachusetts,

Today I thought it would be interesting to explore the question on everyone’s mind – what is Ramadan? Is there more to it than fasting? Why do Muslims even fast at all?

Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, which is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, the month that is used to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed as well as Mohammed’s ascension to the lowest heaven. The observance of Ramadan or sawm is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are five basic acts in Islam that are considered mandatory by believers. During this month, Muslims fasting (abstain from drinking water and eating food) between the hours of sunrise and sundown.Fasting is not obligatory for several groups of people for whom it would be problematic and damaging to one’s health. For example, diabetics and nursing or pregnant women are not obligated to fast.

One of the holiest nights of Ramadan, and arguably one of the holiest nights in Islam is called Laylat al Qadr. It was on this night that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet. It is on this night that Muslims believe that all prayers are answered, and sins are forgiven.

Food and drink are not the only things that Muslims abstain from while fasting. They also refrain from having sexual intercourse, smoking and doing drugs. Furthermore, Muslims who are fasting should not indulge in obscene speech,  falsehood in speech or action and slander.

Ramadan is a month of spiritual growth, abstinence, and fostering feelings of empathy for those who do not have access to food and drink due to poverty or other circumstances.

 

Notable Women in Pakistan (Part 1)

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Hello readers! A lot of stereotypes have been generated in the last few decades about women in Pakistan, and other Muslim countries. We at Barakat would like to make you aware of Pakistani women who have really stood up for themselves and their beliefs, have become leaders in their respective professions, leaders of the communities, and positive influences for other women in their home country and all over the world.

Benazir Bhutto was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990 in her first term and 1993-1996. She was the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country. Benazir was born into a political family – her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was Prime Minister, and was removed from his leadership position in a military coup in 1977. Benazir attended the prestigious Radcliffe College at Harvard University, where she studied comparative government. Benazir continued to fight for her beliefs and her party even when she was in exile in the 2000s, and her persistence became very apparent when she returned to Karachi in 2007, to prepare for the 2008 national elections. Benazir was killed on the 27th of December 2007, while she was leaving a campaign rally.

Malala Yousafzai was born on the 12th of July 1997 and hails from Swat, Pakistan. She harnessed public attention when she was shot by a Taliban gunman for her role as a social activist promoting female education. Yousafzai is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate and continues to spread awareness for education, especially for women, in Swat valley, where women were unable to go to school, due to the Taliban’s influence. At the young age of 19, Malala has co-written her memoir, received dozens of awards for her bravery and leadership, and founded the Malala Fund. The Malala Fund works to secure a girls’ right to quality education.