Of Old-homes and Madarsahs

From a black sparkling Toyota XLi, they pulled off a man onto a wheel-chair and took him into the shelter home; the board outside, read “Gill’s Shelter Home”. Two men in crisp white got off from the same car and shuffled hurriedly behind the man on the wheel-chair. They had some documents in their hands. I sighed.

The inhabitants of the shelter-home are always brought in this way. Their departure sometimes is very grand when their family takes them back for a nice and grand burial, ignore the sarcasm if you’ll please. While sometimes their departure is as quiet as their arrival.

All through the year, the shelter-home remains a forlorn, lonely place. Some people, who notice it, click their tongues a couple of times and pass. Some, like me pledge that they will pay a visit sometimes. Some however fail to see it altogether, their vision fogged by their own problems.

I remember the day it opened, or rather the day they put up the sign board; I was taken aback. I had heard of such places, but for the first time I saw one. The “inauguration”, of the shelter-home was a quiet one. And although I did not for a moment expect fireworks, I thought that may be the people of the area will not let cobwebs adorn the place. Days passed. I forgot; so did the people I guess.

Until the day, when in the same locality, a Madarsah opened.

There was a grand inauguration. A dars, refreshments and the inhabitants of the area were invited. Most of them went, pledged to read the word of God, and send their children. People were assigned duties so that the Madarsah never remains un-attended.

This was the day when I remembered the shelter-home again.

The Quran has been read, understood and preached around me ever since I was a kid. After 2 decades of seeing the word of God being honored and held to the hearts, I wonder, when will come the time, to practice it.

As a student of medicine, I see life at its least and highest worth in the same place all day long. I see people struggling to arrange money for one basic diagnostic test in ways un-imaginable. I see them being dragged on stretchers underneath the buildings of Civil Hospital Karachi that are under-construction and through alleys where uncovered man-holes puke all the human shit out of their bellies.

And at the end of this day when I get back home and attend a wedding because it is rude not to, I see the same people who preach, and read the Quran at the Madarsah spending millions over the food and deco.

I do not weigh and put everyone in the same scale nor am I one to mock at the Madarsahs or against Quran being read and preached. But I simply want us all to realize that it’s high time we stop making religion an excuse for our puny irrational motives and politics and live up to it, instead. The best way to reach God is through His people. That is what we need to be teaching our kids more. The best way is to make them realize what they have, that others don’t and let the love of God brew in their hearts. No amount of incorporating Insha-Allahs and Jazakillahs in our lives, can bring us closer to Him as compared to using our time and money for His people.

©2014. Habiba Danyal

P.S. Turning off the like button. Comments are deeply welcomed.



The Elder, carefully tucked the corners of the sheet around her and looked at his companion for approval. The companion gave a quick nod.

“Shall we go then?” The companion asked.

The Elder kept staring at her, the one they were leaving behind.

“She is in good hands,” said the companion.

“I know, I’ve delivered four of her kind here before. But every time I fear, their fate,” said the Elder with a sigh.

“Why should you fear for them? The man has always been a good father, hasn’t he?” Asked the companion.

“Undoubtedly he has. But circumstances change; and so does man. They are unpredictable, these human beings. They mourn what should be celebrated and run after mediocre things. So every time I deliver a girl, I wait and watch their reaction. Its my way of keeping, let’s say… a check on the human race or rather, a check on humanity,” said the Elder.

The companion gave a sad smile and waited along with the Elder.

“Here he comes,” said the Elder, more to himself than his companion. He held his breath as the man took the girl in his arms. He had aged since the last time he saw him.

The man looked at her and said to his wife, “They all look the same to me. Pink, with black hair.”

The Elder sighed with relief and said to his companion,”Time to go good friend. We have more baby girls to deliver. The boys, I’ll do alone.”

The companion looked at him with confusion and asked, “But wasn’t that a weird thing to say? They all look the same to me. Pink, with black hair!

“Weirder than, Take this thing out of my sight and birth a son next time or you’ll be dead, eh?” Replied the Elder with a chuckle. He soared up, towards the heaven with a light heart. They weren’t given one, but still he felt that he had one, sometimes.

A couple of years later, the Elder and his companion were on duty, together. They had left a house where the father had refused to accept the girl as his own. The companion was desolate. The Elder, seeing his state said,”Come I’ll show you something.” He took him to the house where they had earlier delivered the fifth daughter.

The companion saw the man sitting with his legs outstretched, surrounded by his daughters. All of them were engaged in some work while the fifth one was climbing up his shoulders. She climbed down his chest and slid down the man’s legs, gurgling with laughter. The man sat smiling at her and stretched his legs a little more, joining them once more for her next ride.

The companion smiled at the Elder and said, “Really, they are all the same for him, aren’t they? “

The Elder smiled and nodded. He had a vision then.

He saw that man next to Mohammad in a garden of Eden. To the vision he said, “Amen.”

©2014. Habiba Danyal



Home is where the heart is.

I sat gazing out the car window, perplexed how we were going to make home before dusk to break our fast. The streets were cluttered with vendors selling all kind of snacks and fruits. Ramadan happens to be their “high season”. People would pay anything for the eatables they offer. It is human nature I guess. Keep them hungry all day and they’ll buy more than they can digest. Not only do they swarm shops but they tend to hoard everything they can get their hands on. It is not only the prices that rise in Ramadan but tempers as well flare to boiling points. Fasting teaches tolerance but again human nature; we tend to forget!

Just 4 minutes before we were supposed to break fast, we got stuck in a traffic jam. Bummer! The driver of a white car refused to budge an inch to make way for others, while the man behind our car raised hell by honking his horn! No way, we were making home before aftaar! My father, who had to take a right turn, acted wisely and drove straight taking the longer route home. I looked back to check the situation through the rear window and saw the “horn-honker” getting out of his car in a state of fury! Boy! Anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

As the car moved on, we passed groups of people who were distributing juices and dates. People who are unable to reach home before the respective time never stay hungry. There are always people on the streets who give away things for the sake of charity! In some places tables our set with mounds of snacks and fruits. Although prices hike quite a few notches, no one goes hungry in this blessed month, in my country!

We contended ourselves with the cookies that luckily happened to be in the car and laughed off the situation we faced! Later, I analyzed the events of the day. The contrasts between them proved that there are good and bad people everywhere in the world. But it is always the goodness that prevails! And even the wisest of men act foolishly when under stress or faced with difficult circumstances. But we simply do not label them all with one tag. This is Pakistan…..and this is what I call home.

©2012.Habiba Danyal

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Taking a little liberty this week and crossing over the word limit, what with the festivities of the Independence Day. Happy 65th Pakistan! Hoping that the next 65,000 will be peaceful and prosperous.

For Trifecta: Week 38. The prompt is:

HOME (noun)

a : one’s place of residence : domicileb : house
: the social unit formed by a family living together
a : a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also :the focus of one’s domestic attention <home is where the heart is>b : habitat

It is you Allah!

When people around me reeked,

of the stench of greed and snare;

It was You Allah who came to my aid,

like a waft of fresh air.

When on my face they slammed,

door after another door;

It was You who reached out,

and opened a thousand more!

When the anguish of loss and contriteness,

become too hard to endure;

It is You indeed who lulls me,

into a sleep, serene;secure!

When my world goes down in havoc,

and no moment is that of solace;

it is You who breaks my fall,

and takes me into His embrace!

I searched the world for peace,

my labours all for naught;

peace is you, from you comes peace,

I found it closer than where I sought!

Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest .


©2012.Habiba Danyal