Too scared to be happy?

Being an Islamic republic, the idea of fun somehow ends up sparking debate on “shariah compliant” ways to take pleasure in anything. The word ‘fun’ can trigger conflict.

Rabia Ashfaque August 25, 2010

Fun, in Pakistan, is a debatable issue. Being an Islamic republic, the idea of fun somehow ends up sparking a debate on “shariah compliant” ways to take pleasure in anything. Opinions clash, sentiments are hurt and the concept of entertainment is trashed before it can become a threat.

The concept of ‘having fun’ tends to be viewed as an attack on the sanctity of our religion. Everything is assessed for the label of ‘haraam’, whether it is pumping up the volume and tapping our feet to a song, sitting in an integrated gathering, indulging in a conversation with a member of the opposite sex or using the word sex. It brings back memories of my two years at St Patricks High School, when, at 18, sitting three feet away from a guy and shouting out a conversation was also frowned upon by the Father.

The word ‘fun’ tends to trigger conflict. Ironically, the one thing that seems to unite us is ... you got it ... sorrow.

It happens whenever tragedy strikes this country. Regardless of the various dissimilarities that tend to mostly divide us, a call for help unites and mobilises the entire nation. We saw it with the earthquake in 2005, when the month of Ramazan was fraught with the disaster in the North. We saw how people went all out to help to make sure that the people of the calamity-hit areas were not left to face the tragedy on their own. We saw it yet again a month ago, when the country mourned the Airblue crash. And we see it still, as hundreds of people among us have taken the troubles of the flood survivors upon ourselves.

Why is it, then, that we cannot seem to unite in moments of happiness?

This year, no different from the years that have gone by, Pakistanis started fasting on separate days across the country. It makes me wonder why the people of one country insist on justifying the sighting of the moon on two separate days, feel it necessary to argue over different ways to be a Muslim and celebrate Eid in bits.

Throughout the decades of turmoil, wars and natural disasters, have we forgotten how to come together to celebrate? Or are we just too scared to be happy?

Rabia Ashfaque A graduate of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She spent a few months teaching English to grade 7 before she found her calling and joined The Express Tribune where she works as a sub-editor on the Karachi pages.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


H Syed | 13 years ago | Reply I think or society is modelled in such way that our religious beliefs are under constant attack...and we in a constant state of confusion.We lean something else in our books, our religious teachings are quite different from the things we are exposed to. The media,esp. the international media is obviously not in accordance with our religious beliefs. It creates a tug of war between our religious values and the secular environment we live in from a very early age. We need to stop this conflicting assualt on our psyche, imagine our ego torn between the Ids of secular media and Superego that our religious values require. I think our media needs to be controlled or we all drop Islam. Firstly, the secular society that west is isnt exactly the model human society as far as family structure is concerned, with a 79% first marriage divorce rate it is clear to see.Our people forget the fact that it is their Economic position and enforcement of law and order that makes their society work and prosper, not their secular or areligious beliefs.This is the biggest misconception people in the east have about the west. It is possible to have FUN without transgressing religious boundaries, but when our idea of FUN is dictated by the action of non-muslims and images of foreign lands, it is no wonder we have this state of confusion. I bet clubbing is a lot of fun, getting drunk and dancing and hooking up with complete strangers, but fishing at a lake with a friend can be fun as well, is what makes a person happy, not what they see other people doing.
Syed Khalid Kamal | 13 years ago | Reply In most Islamic and Pakistani socities if any thing looks like fun it must be avoided and it is probably a sin. That holds true not only for music, owning dogs, mixed company, dating but even for things as simple as laughing loudly. I have sincerely considered writing a critique of the "Behisti Zaveer". It is a book dealing with islamic conduct of everyday life particularly for females. In the old days every girl got a copy of it in her "Jehaize" when she got married. Not so much now. But it make for hilarous or horrible reading depending on your point of view. The opinions expressed and practices advocated still have currency.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ