Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sarfaraz A Rehman: The Passport

Sarfaraz A Rehman: The Passport: “One does not sell the land people walk on” Crazy Horse, Oglalala Sioux Chieftain, 1875  The nomads understood the earth was chan...

The Passport

“One does not sell the land people walk on” 
Crazy Horse, Oglalala Sioux Chieftain, 1875 
The nomads understood the earth was changing. Cold and  drought were making it difficult to survive on the vast steppes. To their East they had heard of a big water and on the West was the sea of dark water. But, there was enough land out their for the tribes. They would go both East and West. The great Aryan migration had begun. Slowly over  hundreds of years, they came to lands in India and Iran, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Germany. The Aryan migration was to change the world many millennia later. 
Even earlier than that, the sons of Hazrat Nuh, Shem; Haam; Japheth had migrated too, into empty lands and filled them with humans. Thus humans had spread through the world. 
The Quran speaks about migration. Indeed, the Islamic calendar started from the migration of the Prophet (saw). In the Islamic perspective, migration can be for religion, for education or to avoid repression. There is freedom to go from a land and no reason to be attached to it. 

“Was not the earth of God spacious enough for you to flee for refuge?” (4:97)

So many Prophets, Adam, Ibrahim, Ismael, Musa etc migrated. It is allowed and such sacrifice, if done for religion is greatly honoured. 
Ibn Battuta, left his native Moroccan land at 21. A wander lust and a thirst for knowledge led him for three decades through lands as far East as India. He came home to narrate his many adventures. Thus enriching history and bringing mankind ever closer together.
Humanity for much of history had the freedom of the lands. As Crazy Horse quoted, you cannot own land. Allah (swt) had given this for free, for humanity to use and succeeding generations of humans were just occupiers of the land, to eventually pass on the usage to the next generation.
Sometime after World War 1 came a change in the status of empires. The nation states were born and its first representative the League of Nations was created. Much was changed and one of the first things agreed was to stamp the identity of nation states; thus the Passport was born. Back in the Persian empire days, the Khusro would issue letters of authority to his representatives, when they traveled to other parts. Similarly, Henry Viii issued authorities for his people to travel. But by and large, the Passport was first put into effect around 1920.   
It seemed like a minor intervention, but the Passport and what it implied, has changed the world. The word “immigrant” has been stamped onto our psyche now. In the past large groups of people simply moved lands and no one stopped them. USA, the most iconic country of the last century, is also born out of this very immigration. When the Mayflower from Plymouth sailed across the seas bringing the Pilgrim Fathers, there were no passports or barriers to entry. The Passport is the basic tenet of nation hood and has become the tool of racism, wealth, barriers and has also led to conflicts. Whatever the intention of the League of Nations, it has so transpired, that the simple agreement to institute the Passport almost a 100 years ago, is suspiciously viewed by many as a sinister conspiracy to subjugate the people of humanity.

Just a further related footnote of history. A hundred years ago, much changed very suddenly. The Balfour Declaration was made, creating the vision of Israel; the Caliphate of Muslims was destroyed; USA took its role as the major power; the concept of modern nationhood was established; The Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia; the Jewish people commenced their migration to the Middle East (all done without any Passport!!!); The division of Europe was done leaving the seeds for World War 2. The division of Arabia was done, leaving seeds for the present conflict. The Passport was born; The present day system was institutionalised (banks, stock markets, currencies, insurance companies, transnational organisations, democracy). All within a space of three years history was transformed. So who was the guiding hand? Are we humans so obtuse, that we do not see a pattern here? But, that is a question of a separate story. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Living in the Now

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Living in the Now: As a child Our time scale was very short. That was the basic reason why we lived in the Now and were happy.  It was incredible how t...

Living in the Now

As a child Our time scale was very short. That was the basic reason why we lived in the Now and were happy.  
It was incredible how the smallest expectation and our happiness would hit the roof. That is because the time span we saw was just upto the expectation. We did not see beyond.

If something bad was about to happen, even then we were like a rubber ball, because we bounced back immediately after the bad event, because we did not look back and so happiness prevailed.  

There is a lesson for us in this. Kids outlook span of a short time, is natural. A fear of the future is deliberately inserted into our children by us humans. Making them slaves of society for the rest of their lives. If we stop, they will continue to be the happy creatures they were at the start. 

The sort of fears we inculcate in our young ones are endless. 
  • a fear of financial security
  • of rejection
  • of loss of face 
  • defeat or failure 
  • loneliness 
  • a lack of love  
  • physical safety
  • And many more specific ones

These kids are born clean happy humans and we distort them. They then end up developing paranoia, ego or insecurities. It mutates them and that mutation becomes the basis of all the troubles of this world. The likes of Borgias, Caligula, Attila, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini and many more are just some of the products of their circumstances. The world paid a heavy price for what went on in their houses, schools and early lives. Had their parents and adults been able to see into the future, much could have been prevented. Much! Such a tragedy the world could have been spared.  

Wish there was a way to stop these tragedies in the future. Of leaving these happy bubbling beings just what they were born to be, good happy humans.

* picture is from

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Laws of Perversity (Never say Never)

imageIts my hypothesis, that there is a trap set at every step during our lives. Its been pre programmed. You just need to find it. And its not that difficult. Just the right mind set and you are in there.
As a kid, I remember my father thinking of buying a Volkswagen Beetle, as a family car. Nothing unusual about that. One in every four cars on the road was a Beetle in those days. This is before the Government of Pakistan decided in its infinite wisdom, that they should tax higher literage cars more than others. So before the Japanese cars took over in Pakistan (and really the world), you could see the Beetles every where. We all went and checked out the Beetle at the showroom and my mother categorically stated that it was a horrible, ugly looking thing, and she would not sit in it. So, alas, no Beetle!
Cut forward 14 years and I was back in Pakistan, studies completed, I had recently joined Unilever, on whose princely salary, all I could afford was an old second hand car, Alhamdulillah. Guess what I ended up buying ? A dilapidated 14 year old Beetle! ( this car had a mind of its own. It would forever stop on Clifton Road at the most inopportune times and caused me constant heartburn). And of course my mother sat often in the same ugly car, for the next 3 years. A soft trap, but nevertheless, one which repeats itself all the time.  
Never say Never!
Just go ahead and state your intentions of not doing something in a categorical fashion, and more than likely, the exact thing you denied, you will end up doing. Now, somewhere there is a Murphy’s Law, which states that anything which could possibly go wrong, well it will go wrong. Similarly, I think there should be a Perversity Law. If you say something will “Never” happen, well sadly it will happen.
In my own personal experience, it has occurred exactly like that. I stated I would not study abroad; I did. Never do Chartered Accountancy; I did. Would not join a commercial organisation; I did. Did not want to be heading an operation; I did. Once I left the commercial world, would never come back; I did. Would never smoke; I did. Will always exercise and have no weight problems; well in the last ten years done little exercise and had the mother of fights to keep the weight in check.
I wonder where this stops and how many others suffer from similar results. Friends I have enquired from, all have a similar story to tell. So is this a worldwide phenomenon? Then the thought occurs, if it is so common, why don’t we humans, stop stating things in a categorical fashion? Or better still, only say “Never” to things you actually want to happen, thus engineering a perverse reaction, all to your benefit. That should lead to the perverse happening., which is what you wanted in the first place… right? If you see what I mean.
So then, my fresh, new Laws of Perversity.
A) if you are sure in your mind you will “Never” do something and you state it out loud for general consumption, you will end up doing it.
B) if you are sure in your mind something will “Never” happen and you state it out loud for general consumption, it will happen.
C) if you are blessed with a high IQ and a devious mind, and believe (A) or (B) are true, and then you state the opposite deliberately, thinking its going to assist you to achieve the same, you are wrong! It will catch you out and it will not happen. It simply reads your intention.
D) Law A and B are therefore the only true laws, based on the confidence of your statement.
Therefore, my conclusion, after a lifetime of experience … Never say Never!
*the picture has been taken from a free picture site.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Let Go

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Let Go:    The older guy smiled and said 'Yes, he knew the place and had walked the familiar corridors'. The young man, in some puzzlem...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Let Go

The older guy smiled and said 'Yes, he knew the place and had walked the familiar corridors'. The young man, in some puzzlement and trepidation, looked at the older person and nodded. 'I have heard your name before, they say you were very good'. The older guy, was not even sure his name was  recognised. Long time ago, these corridors belonged to him and were his creation. C'est la vie.     
The mace passes. What is today will not be tomorrow. Do not forget it. Age gracefully. Move on before your downtime comes. Let go! Leave some of yourself behind. So that some of it is remembered, which in time will also be forgotten. Do not hold onto the past. It is a recipe for defeat, ridicule and pain.       
This is the best advice I would give to anyone, in youth or old age.. There is a time and place for things. One day move on and do new things.  And some day like all humans, we will go the way of eternity. There we can seek the everlasting. 

Lastly the best human words related to this are from Percy Shelley in Ozymandias.   
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.” 

*picture is from