All posts in the Articles category

For the Love of Learning

Published March 4, 2015 by sidmary

Who among us has never seen or experienced the early morning frenzy that seizes the households where everyone has to leave for some place or the other and reach before a certain time? School students, college students, university students, office workers…it is a routine unmanned by occupation. However early you get up, and however fast you get ready, the clock in the morning ticks at an unparalleled speed trying to make you late.

What if in this situation, in the time it takes you to hear the horn, open the door and move out, your van leaves? What if, even as you stand at the gate, you see the receding behind of the indomitable vehicle mocking you in the face for the one second delay? At least once in a lifetime, this has happened with most of us.

But wait…! What if your wish or need to get to school, or college overpowers the misery and seething anger you are feeling at the situation? What if you get into your car and drive across half the city to reach the institution, only to realize that you are one minute late and cannot enter the premises? Blam! There goes the world crumbling around you; one more morning incident to fire your nerves and heat your blood. You go quickly over the schedule of the day in your mind weighing how important attending classes today was…and you comfort yourself with the conclusion that you will get notes from your friend and all will be fine. Then you go home and plop on the bed, making up for the sleep you lost last night making an assignment you had to submit today.

What a comedy of errors! Or maybe a tragedy? Who knows? However, there is one very important aspect to this not uncommon scenario that it would a tragedy to not explore: the policy of educational institutions to send students back home even if they are half a minute late. Yes, just thirty seconds worth of delay.

Let us look first at the reasons for this strict policy. It is majorly because institutions want to instill the value of punctuality in their students, and maintain some decorum in the school that such strict policies are made; and yet one is forced to question: is all fine with this?

The early schools which were the centers of learning and research were homely places where all were welcome. They were institutes from where learning developed and advanced, and the forbears of the educational institutions we have today. They developed the sciences which are taught in our schools today, but what were their salient features? These were schools which remained open at all times. It was sin to close the doors of learning on those who sought them. Knowledge was sacred, and withholding it from the seeker was blasphemy.

In the modern day, when education has been institutionalized, rules and policies are required to be stricter. Students are and should be expected to adhere to certain norms of behavior, but the strict policy and rule making should follow some rules too. Humans are not sheep- all to be herded indiscriminately by the same stick, and education and learning is not a child’s play to be taken lightly and undervalued by the centers of education themselves.

To instill punctuality in students and maintain the decorum of schools and colleges, penalties are and should be issued to those who undervalue the importance of learning and those who are religiously non-punctual, but to send students home who are late once in a blue moon and with genuine reason is blasphemy! What educational institutions encourage this way is students going home and sleeping the productive morning hours away. Along with the student, they are equally to blame for the loss of precious time and perhaps more for not understanding the value and importance of one whole day of learning.

It is about time that educational institutions make policies with practicality and the objective of learning in their minds. The effort of one who wakes up in the wee morning hours, gets ready and travels a good half hour or more to get to school or college should be appreciated and respected, and more than the clock’s face should be considered when sending one back down the same path they took to learning.


–Sidra Maryam

KIBF 2013

Published December 12, 2013 by sidmary

When you enter the Karachi Expo Centre on one of the days near the end of the year, you find the essence of Karachi.

You will find motorbike riders, rikhshaw travellers, and Pajero owners all coming together at one place with nothing to differentiate them…

And the love of books to unite them.

Here, in three halls full of books, you see the trend of society. You see what people like to read, what people like to think, and what people are told.

You see what your country men feel, and what guides their feelings.

Occasionally you’ll catch sight of a foreigner, and you will be proud of how you represent your country to him.

You might also see a writer, a columnist, or an analyst you hate or look up to, and somewhere in your heart, you’d be filled with pride that you have access to one place that they visit, and you tell your friends and family of whom you saw.

And then there are the books…

In both the languages most read in your country.

English and Urdu.

And its a collection that helps you travel accross time and sail over lands.

It gives you insight into the nitty gritties of small stuff, and overviews of “big stuff.”

And you have to chose well…because like food you eat takes up and re-makes the whole of your body in a few years time, the books you read take up and re-make your whole mind and life in a few years time.

But it is magical. Believe me.

You don’t want to miss it next year.

Wherever you go,

Choose well.

And happy reading. 🙂

–Sidra Maryam


This Shameful Act…

Published December 1, 2013 by sidmary

21 women, including seven girls, were imprisoned after participating in a peaceful demonstration in Alexandria.The conviction and imprisonment of 21 female protesters, including seven girls, after they participated in a peaceful pro-Morsi demonstration in Alexandria shows the Egyptian authorities’ determination to punish dissent, Amnesty International said.

“These harsh prison sentences against young women and girls come after the adoption of a draconian protest law and the violent dispersal of an activists’ protest in Cairo. It is a strong signal that there will be no limit to the authorities’ efforts to crush opposition and that no one is immune to their iron fist,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“These women and girls should have never been arrested. They are now prisoners of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

The Sidi-Gaber Misdemeanour court in Alexandria yesterday sentenced 14 women to 11 years and one month in prison. An Alexandria juvenile court sentenced seven girls to be placed in a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21.

The protesters were charged with hampering traffic, destroying the entrance of a building, attacking officials on duty, belonging to a banned group engaged in terrorist activities and disturbing public order after participating in a peaceful pro-Morsi demonstration in Alexandria on 31 October.

According to their lawyers, the only evidence the prosecutor presented to court were two banners with the words “anti-coup” written, some stones, and 25 signs bearing the image of a hand holding up four fingers. The image is used by by pro-Morsi protesters to commemorate the dispersal in August of the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in in which security forces killed hundreds of protesters.

Eye witnesses interviewed by Amnesty International described how on 31 October security forces attacked protesters on Stanely Bridge and chased protesters escaping into side streets arresting at least 22 women and one man.

Protesters were reportedly beaten with gun butts, batons and were slapped on their faces during their arrests. While the protest included a roughly equal number of men, the majority of those arrested were women and girls.

A 19 year old woman who escaped arrest told Amnesty International: “We were leaving [the protest] when we found an ambulance stopping .Army and police got out and started to shoot in the air, we ran into side streets and the security forces followed us. While I was running, I heard other girls who were arrested screaming because of the beatings, I looked behind and saw at least four girls caught by the security forces, they were beaten by gun butts….I kept running but a man in civilian clothes pulled me by my backpack…then three other police personnel surrounded me and started to beat me with their fists and gun butts all over my body, they also slapped me on the face, I could not bear the beatings so I fell and they dragged me towards the main street, but they could not continue as I was almost unconscious and my arm was broken, they left me on the street … the security forces were only running after girls.”

“Instead of imprisoning peaceful protesters, authorities should be ensuring prompt, independent and impartial investigations into police abuse of protesters, reining in security forces, and upholding the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Once detained, some of them were held at al-Abadeya Prison. They  complained of poor hygiene in the cells and of being forced to sleep on the floor.

Ramadan Abdelhamid, whose 15-year-old daughter and wife are currently in detention, said: “I told them that my daughter is too young and my wife is suffering from heart disease and showed them the medical reports. The police response was ‘everybody is sick here’. I asked them to give my wife access to doctor but they refused. My daughter complained about the treatment inside the prison. The bathroom is outside the cell and security closes it from 8 pm until 10 am leaving them for 10 hours without access to the bathroom.”

Background information
Thousands of pro-Morsi supporters have been arrested in Cairo and across the country since former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013, amid concerns over the lack of respect of due process.

Earlier this month, a Cairo misdemeanour court sentenced 12 Azhar University students to 17 years in prison and 65,000 EGP fine (USD 8,600) on charges of committing violent acts during a protest at the University.

In September, the Muslim Brotherhood was banned by court order and its assets frozen. Suspected supporters of the group have been facing charges of belonging to a “banned organization” even before the court judgement.

The protest, organised by a new pro-morsi movement called “seven in the morning”, was the first in Alexandria. Some 350 protesters marched in the morning of 31 October 2013 from Sidi Gaber area to Stanely Bridge on the corniche holding Rabaa signs and banners claiming the return of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and condemning his overthrow.

The police and army arrested 22 women and one man and took them to the Alexandria Security Directorate. The investigations by the prosecutor were conducted there. A lawyer who attended the investigations told Amnesty International that the prosecutor asked the girls “why do you belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and its better for you to avoid it given it will involve you in many problems.” Although one of the charges was destroying a building entrance, the prosecutor never went to check the entrance of the building to prove the alleged damage.

The prosecutor then ordered their preventive detention for 15 days and released the man and a 13 year old girl. The seven girls were transferred to the juvenile detention center in Alexandria and the 14 remaining women were transferred to al-Abaadeya Prison in Damanhour, Behiera. The lawyers unsuccessfully appealed the preventive detention order on 3 November.

Lawyers told Amnesty International that it took them at least two hours before they were able to visit the detainees in al-Abadeya Prison. The visit lasted only 30 minutes and was in the presence of security personnel, in breach of the right of defence.

This news article has been taken from the following link:


Note: This is a plea to all the readers to say, write or do anything to try to help those sisters and condemn this shameful, unmanly, inhuman act.

There should be a Uniform System of Education in Pakistan

Published October 25, 2013 by sidmary


(Following is my argument on the debate we had in school. I was the leader of proposition, and this being the first speech, focuses on breaking up and explaining the topic as well as presenting the stance.)


Honorable Chairperson,


I present my speech today in favor of the topic at hand, and am presenting in fact, one of the many paradoxes of life.


This specific paradox, is one that sneers at us from right under our noses, and makes a joke out of us every passing moment, yet one that we fail even to be amused about.


The system of education, prevalent in Pakistan, is ironically a host to a multitude of other systems, just like a decaying body, which becomes the host to the growth of a multitude of fungal and bacterial colonies. The end, needless to say, can never be good.


The real irony here however, lies in the fact that this education, which is meant to illuminate, build bridges and extend boundaries, is in fact cutting off communication, limiting minds, and building fences.


Quaid-e-Azam said and I quote that “You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice, and the equality of manhood in you own native soil.” (unquote)


I ask you Hon. Chair, HOW, how exactly is the development and maintenance of Islamic social justice and the equality of manhood possible in this land, when its very education is one that creates social classes, builds class differences, and wipes away empathy from hearts?


Hon. Chair,


The state of education in our country is dismal. Divide the system into three components, and you will find yet more diversity under their umbrellas. Take first the private sector, mostly schools and colleges affiliated with foreign universities, and exceptions aside, you will find that although they provide quality education, usually in a high-tech environment, they send individuals in the world with an undue superiority complex. Individuals, who although trained in the multiple fields of sciences, business and humanities, are untrained in the disciples of life, and morals.


Take next our institutions of religious education, namely the Madrassas, and you will find that the most excellent syllabus, is taught sadly without innovation and integration, resulting in pushing the best potential scholars behind in the race against time, and creating a class altogether different from those taught in schools.


We take lastly the government schools, and their general state of deterioration requires no introduction.


Hon. Chair,


Lets analyze this.


Lets question ourselves.


Why is a privately educated individual made into an instrument in the capitalist machinery. Why is he given no guidance about his purpose of life, and no understanding of people unlike himself!


And why is a student educated in a Madrassa left behind in the modern world, when its integration with religion and morals that the world needs the most right now.


And why should a student studying from a government school be deprived of the basic essence of education?


Hon. Chair,


The answer to all these questions is simple. There should one system of education, across the country, that provides ideological, value-based, and modern education assisted by up-to-date teaching methodologies and equipment.


In compliance to Article-25A of the constitution of Pakistan, that promises the provision of education to all and everyone till the age of 16, such should be the standard.


James A. Garfield said and I quote, that: ” Next in importance to freedom and justice, is proper education, without which neither freedom, nor justice can be permanently maintained.” (unquote)


Hon. Chair,


It is such a uniform system of education, that inculcates the principles of freedom and justice, that our country needs the most right now. For education is, as the Quaid said, “a matter of life and death for the country.”


As for my friends who might question the practicality of the suggestion, I have but one more message of the Quaid: “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, their is nothing that is not possible.”



People sitting on mats on the floor, reading b...

People sitting on mats on the floor, reading books. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(And i won!!! 😀 )


–Sidra Maryam


Darkness begets Knowledge

Published March 6, 2013 by sidmary

“Darkness begets knowledge.”

The city’s shut down. The shutters dropped. The houses are locked with people safe inside. And the ones outside?? The ones who lost their homes?? The ones who have none…??

The schools are to remain close for an undetermined period. Same for business transactions. There are some who take this as another few days for home, yet others who depend on daily work for daily wages for daily food…What about them??

The business shutdown causes loss of fortunes everyday. The very soil screams out, yet the din above ground suppresses its cries. The country holds treasures, asks us to exploit them,…do we hear??

People die, people starve, people hallucinate, people violate, people resent, people despair…Thats’s not the onset of night, its the end.

“Darkness begets knowledge.”

Knowledge begets Light.

Light begets the Cure.

Keep positive. The world needs you. Its future is yours. Do your part…It’s waiting…


–Sidra Maryam


Why I Don’t Believe Darwin

Published February 8, 2013 by sidmary

The debate of the evolution of man versus the concept that God created Adam is a debate that has not been resolved since Darwin. For me however, the debate never was. I strongly, staunchly disagree with Darwin.

My stance is not the many loopholes in the scientific perspective of the theory. No, I take it the way it affects the society. You pick up a book on Fascism, Nazism or any of such extremist theories of the twentieth-century, and you will come across the phrase “Social-Darwinism” used over and over again. (You may not, but you’ll find the idea). And the idea was about the superiority of a race, and that too of only the fittest of it. About the “survival of the fittest” if we take take it in the Darwin’s way of things.

This is a recreated vector image in SVG. The o...

This is a recreated vector image in SVG. The original “Human_evolution_scheme.png” was made by José-Manuel Benitos.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That was the reason that it was not just the Jews who were exterminated in Nazi Germany, but the physically and mentally unfit too who were executed. Their crime: not being perfect; their judges: breeds of ill thought.

And I believe in God. I believe that He is merciful and that everything He makes manifests His mercy. I also believe that every scientific theory presented regarding man has an effect on the society and its structure. Thus the mercy of God demands that even in the universal structure there be no such element as would destroy or corrupt the society if applied to it. Darwinism; the theory of the evolution of man did.

Another reason I don’t believe Darwin is that God, in the creation of Adam, gave me an exalted status. He made me respectable and honoured. He made me His deputy. A deputy of the Lord of the worlds! That gives me a standard to come up to, and a distinction from other creation. It gives me confidence in my being and a purpose to my Life. On the other hand, if I believe that I evolved from apes, I would have no moral standing! The concept of God’s creation of Adam is what gives me everything that makes me different from animals.

I’ll keep that short. The acceptability of a theory for me is how it affects or aims to affect the society. How it upholds morals and grooms the social structure. The twentieth century, having with the most atheistic and materialistic tendency ever seen in the people, brought only havoc to Earth. The theory of evolution of man, was no different. One is as unacceptable to me as the other…

–Sidra Maryam

The Way I see it…

Published January 31, 2013 by sidmary

I was sifting through the pages of my diary, and here’s what I came accross from an entry on the 9th of this month:

(Hoping you’ll like it 🙂 )

…The way I see it Diary, you need to love. You need to love everyone, everything, all the time. You need to love till your heart fills up and you hate no more…because you see Diary, it just occured to me that the more you love, the more you are able to acknowledge. The more you are able to acknowledge, the more you are able to empathize with. And the more you empathize, the more you accept, and the more you are able appreciate. And appreciating Diary, from the bottom of your heart and the core of your soul: loving; makes life eaier and happier…

— Sidra Maryam

Ten Seconds of Rain

Published January 15, 2013 by sidmary

An unusual thing happened today. Actually, living in Pakistan, a number of unusual things happened today, but this one that  struck me was a short spurt of rain.

We were sitting together when a noise from outside surprised us. Slightly spooked out, I went to investigate, and lo and behold: it was rain! (And something least expected at this time of the year.)

We looked out the window and the rain ended before our eyes. It may have lasted a minute a the least, but as my sister put it, it was as if only ten seconds of rain.

Such stuff happens I guess. Odd miracles now and then to tell you that life’s not normal. That each day, each ten seconds is a worthy bargain, and that theres a rough beauty and miracle in every off hand happening/ thing that craves a look and an appreciation. I wonder what hapened in those ten seconds round the world: some death, some birth, some love, some hate, and some plain wonder and appreciation….I think I chose my ten seconds well 🙂

May each ten seconds rain happiness and blessings on you…


–Sidra Maryam

January the First

Published January 1, 2013 by sidmary

December is the end of happenings. Consciously or unconsciously, I wrap up everything I started that year. If I have written my goals somewhere and forgotten them, I take the pains to go through them again. I draw up a list of all unfinished books, and try to hurry through them before December 31st…

I take a look at what happened in my life, my country, my family, and it often surprises me how so many changes went unnoticed by. I skim through my diary and see how far I have come, and thank God for having given me another good year of life to learn and make memories from…

But then comes Jan, as we nick the next new month, and there’s loads to start all over again. Resolutions to make, targets to set, lessons to apply…and I realize that the end of one happening is only the beginning of another.

So whoever was this man who started the calender, I think he did it so that we could continue in our endeavours with renewed zeal and motivation and keep track of what has happened and why.

I know half the world did not expect to make it to 2013, but now that we have, lets make it better than ever before…

Happy January the first. 🙂


–Sidra Maryam

On Books and Reading: (esp. Fiction and Non-fiction) -2

Published December 14, 2012 by sidmary
Fiction Stacks

Fiction Stacks (Photo credit: chelmsfordpubliclibrary)

From ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ by Thomas Hardy, I once and for all understood truly the status that Islam gives to women. The mere idea that women are a posession or can be sold is obscene, and the custom was yet prevalent in England in the 19th century. I understood why Muslims have been commanded to spread the message of Islam and peace; why they are supposed to put only three options to others: to accept Islam, or accept the government of Islam or prepare to fight. This is because however successful a society may seem to be, there are always problems, always oppression at some level or the other, to some people or the other; and Islam has got such comprehensive laws regarding every social, political, economical as a matter of fact all sorts of problems that it alone has the true ability, if followed truly to erase oppression from the world. Selling women was a form of oppression, and one that Islam deals with excellently by instilling faith and condemning irrogance.

‘Paranoia’ was a more contemporary novel by James Finder. It focussed on the corporate world of America and opened my eyes to what happens generally in business the world over. It was about how lying and cheating and immoral behaviour is taken as ‘strategy’ and actually appreciated when it benefits you in business when all it really is is stooping low to the level of animals without any morals or values. I concluded based on what I have always read in non-fiction that anything based on cheating is destined to decline. I now believe that all corporate business is doomed if based on such ‘strategy’ and that since the American economy is based on corporate business, it should take warning. This is because I have read that false foundations don’t endure.

The thing is that fiction and non-fiction compliment each other. What you understand from non-fiction, your belief on it is strengthened from fiction. My interest is social sciences and religion, and I find plenty to affirm my faith and endorse my beliefs in all that I read. Non-fiction plays a separate and important part, and fiction plays the other separate and important part. There is no comparison. What matters is how you read what you are reading. You can have a defensive mindset and you will find fault with everything you read. You can have an analytical approach and you will understand more than what even the writer intended you to understand. Then you can have a critical approach and you will see for yourself what is what is true and what is false in what you are reading. You will know what to believe in and what to filter out of your mind.

All sorts of reading makes your wiser and smarter, but only if you choose your books wisely and read them with the proper approach. To those who condemn fiction, there is no basis if one gives ample time to non-fiction. And to those who ignore non-fiction altogether: life is greater than stories can teach you and reading of non-fiction is essential to be able to understand it.

Lastly, to all book lovers: happy reading. May you all have a long, successful and beneficial reading life. 🙂

–Sidra Maryam

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