Archive for Saleena Karim

Waheed Murad’s biography released in Pakistan

Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times cover

SK: The much-anticipated Pakistani edition of Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times, which was published in the UK by Libredux Publishing last year, has just been released as of yesterday (16 August 2016). Below is Khurram Shafique’s announcement email:


My dear friends,

Please allow me to write this email on a personal note, and speak straight from the heart.

With my new book, I might be questioning our understanding of almost everything – I have myself experienced this paradigm shift due to the influence of Iqbal’s teachings, and now I’m sharing the crux of it all in my new book, Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times.

Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times cover

The title is deceptive.

The book is the story of Iqbal’s literary movement after his death in 1938. We know that the dreams of this movement came true when Iqbal’s party gained a spectacular victory in the election of 1945-46, paving the way for the birth of Pakistan (including the present-day Bangladesh). We also know that every school of thought except one had rejected this goal within the first seven years of the country’s existence.

In my book, I’m telling the story of the only school of thought that remained committed to the goal the nation had adopted under the Quaid. This school has been banished from our academic and intellectual life, and has been disinherited most treacherously.

Therefore, this is not the story of a filmstar. It is your story. It is our story. It is about how our dreams, our ideals, and perhaps even our souls got stolen and how we still do not know. Where did they go? This is what I’m trying to answer in Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times.

The book is the result of my journey of discovery in the light of whatever I learnt from Iqbal. What I found in this journey, I’m sharing here with you, with a promise that after reading this book, your perception of Pakistan will change forever.

The book is now available in Pakistan through TCS, at their website (credit card is not needed). Special price of the Pakistani edition is Rs.300. It has been published by Libredux, who also published the UK-US edition last year, and is being distributed in Pakistan by Topline Publishers.

I hope that you will enjoy this book.

Regards

Khurram Ali Shafique

Dr Javid Iqbal Passes Away

Dr Javid Iqbal

Photo credit: allamaiqbal.com

With sadness I note the passing away of Dr. Javid Iqbal today in Lahore, at the age of 91. He was a one-time senior justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and, like his legendary father Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, he was also a philosopher. On a personal note he sent me some kind words on SJ2 a few years ago.

My deepest condolences go out to his family.

 

 

Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times – Out Now

Waheed Murad Biography CoverLibredux Publishing is pleased to announce a brand new title: Khurram Ali Shafique’s book, Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times, which went into print yesterday (16 September 2015) and is already available at Amazon’s US and UK sites. It’s the second title in a series of three titled Visionaries for Our Times. (The first of the series was Libredux’s previous publication: Iqbal: His Life and Our Times.) The third installment in the series, on the life of Cyrus the Great, will be released within the next year.

Following from the themes of the first book, this is not merely a biography of Pakistan’s greatest film star. It’s the story of a visionary whose films aimed to reflect the ideals of Iqbal.

Intro from the back cover follows.


 

The face that changed the way a nation saw itself

Presenting the first complete biography of Waheed Murad, covering the diverse aspects of his enchanting personality – filmmaker, writer, superstar and the man behind the legend. In these pages you will discover his unique vision for an ideal world: One that can be created through love and a strong will, where intellect and reason have failed to do so.

Khurram Ali Shafique is an internationally renowned scholar of Iqbal Studies, and a recipient of the Presidential Iqbal Award. He is also a screenwriter, educationist and historian. He began writing this book soon after the death of Waheed in 1983, but it took more than thirty years to piece together all the parts of this amazing story.

The Visionary Fiction Revolution – And how words can change the world

Visionary Fiction AllianceSK: Following are the opening paragraphs from the second of a two-part article written by Rory Mackay for the VFA. Reblogged here for what it says about the purpose of story. For the full post and direct link to the first part, please visit the VFA site here.


 

 

We tell stories for a reason

Mythology, which is storytelling at its most essential level, was not purposeless. It played an important role in shaping and sustaining society and, according to Campbell, had four primary functions. The first was to open the eyes of the individual and awaken a sense of awe, humility and wonder about the very nature of existence; to become aware of an interplay of tangible physical and elusive metaphysical realms.

The second function was cosmological; using stories and metaphor to help people understand the universe around them, making sense of time, space and biology. On a sociological level, mythology was also used as a means of forming and maintaining social connections. Having a shared narrative enabled tribes to stick together, supporting the social order and maintaining customs, beliefs and social norms.

Continued –>

Is All Social Commentary Visionary Fiction?

The world we shape

We know that all visionary fiction is a form of social commentary, but is it also true the other way round? My latest article for the VFA explores this question, with a special focus on a writer who is also promoting a form of visionary fiction. For the full article, click the link. - SK


 

Science fiction has long been the genre of choice for social commentary. By breaking away from the everyday real world and presenting alternative realities, it offers a safe haven for making statements on controversial or otherwise sensitive topics. Unsurprisingly, as a speculative fiction type, sci-fi is also a favourite genre choice for the visionary fiction writer, myself included. But just as not all visionary fiction is sci-fi, not all sci-fi is VF. Even so, with both being used for social commentary, the line that distinguishes the two can occasionally seem blurred. This is exactly what happened recently when the VFA came across a writer who was promoting a kind of fiction for which she had chosen the term “visionary fiction”. <– Click here for full article

Happy Birthday Jinnah

Taken just ten minutes ago for this post. Sleeps like an angel - but only in the day.

Taken just ten minutes ago (3:30 p.m.) for this post. Sleeps like an angel – but only during the day.

 

Today (actually, as of 6 May) my family has welcomed my brother’s first born child into this world. And so now, as well as being a fan of the one and only M.A. Jinnah, I am also the aunt of his namesake: Jinnah Karim. :)

Fiction’s Battle for Acceptance in Islam, as Metaphor for Visionary Fiction

Visionary Fiction AllianceSK: Following are the opening paragraphs of a most interesting article written by Stephen Weinstock for the VFA. It compares the development of fiction in the Muslim world to the rise of visionary fiction in general. For the full post, please visit the VFA site here.



Part One

In researching Book Three of my series 1001: The Reincarnation Chronicles, I read a great deal about the history of Arabic Literature. I am no Arabic scholar, but I had to learn about medieval Persian and Arabic culture. My characters, in their past lives in 10thcentury Baghdad, collaborate on a special version of The Thousand and One Nights, which is multi-cultural, subversive, and highly symbolic. I became enthralled by the development of fiction in the early Islamic world, and how difficult it was for a story collection like the Nights to gain acceptance.

When I learned about the gradual acceptance of Visionary Fiction in literary culture, I thought there were some interesting parallels with Arabic fiction. The phrase uphill battle comes to mind. But also, Visionary and Arabic Fiction each have strong ties to spirituality and religion, which both promote and hinder their acceptance. But let’s travel back in time to see more detailed parallels.

Continued –>

Are Fairy Tales Turning Visionary?

Following is a reproduction of an article I have written for the VFA – SK


Maleficent in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Maleficent in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Although much visionary fiction has magical and fantasy elements in common with the fairy tales of old, the two differ in some fundamental respects. The themes of the conventional fairy tale revolve about the triumph of good over evil, where the heroes are princes and princesses, or peasants who marry princes and princesses and gain a kingdom or an endless supply of gold. The villains are always jealous stepparents, or evil older siblings, or tyrannical kings and queens. At other times they are monsters, or trolls, or wolves. The latter in particular are ugly and incomprehensible, external forces, wreaking havoc on the heroes and their people, or they are cunning creatures luring some naive vulnerable character to do their bidding, reminiscent of Satan misleading Adam and Eve.

The characteristics of the heroes are equally clear-cut: the shining knight, or the prince, or the peasant who turns out to be a missing prince. They are almost exclusively male, and their relationship with the heroine is defined as “pure” or “true love”, betraying the psychological influence of mysticism that compares this form of love to Divine union. In some tales this true love is key to breaking some spell that has trapped the damsel, as is the case in our story of interest to be reviewed here shortly.

Visionary differences

Visionary fiction, like the fairy tale, is interested in the good versus evil conflict but like other modern literature, it asks what constitutes “good” and “evil” in the first place, and what might turn a good person bad. Its protagonists are frequently female, and even if they are not the lead, they are rarely damsels in distress. Love may feature as a means of defeating darkness, but it is not narrowly defined within the context of romantic or sexual love. Indeed all these can be said to be part of the modern trend of fiction in general, except that for the most part modern fiction arguably addresses these ideas at a more superficial level.

Few would disagree that visionary fiction is a relatively new (or, as I believe, a recently revived) genre, and that fairy tales remain vastly popular. But as many VF writers will attest, the visionary form is also in demand and gaining ground. And it seems that the old fairy tale might tale up for a revamp to accommodate this change in literary ideal.

Maleficent – a review

Recently I saw Disney’s Maleficent (2014), a live-action adaptation of the fairy tale classicSleeping Beauty and also a rewrite of the 1959 Disney animated movie of the same name in which the evil fairy from the traditional fairy tale was named “Maleficent” for the first time. In the movie trailer, Maleficent is advertised as a fairy tale with a twist – promising to reveal the “truth” behind the “legend” of that spinning wheel curse. The twist is that this is a story told from Maleficent’s point of view, and is an explanation of how this “good fairy” came to place the curse on the newborn princess Aurora.

On the surface this seems to be just another modern Disney movie, but there are some elements that turn the traditional version of the story on its head, and defy the conventions of most other traditional fairy tales in the process. Without going into the details of the story too much, let’s take a look at some intriguing examples.

The villain is the good guy – and vice versa

Unlike in the traditional fairy tale, Maleficent is not merely a bad fairy who resents not being invited to the christening of the princess. In the remake, she starts off as (and essentially remains) a good fairy, but she is betrayed by Stefan, a man whom she had considered her “true love”, and she has taken revenge by cursing his daughter. Unlike in the traditional version, the curse does not entail death, but places the princess into an eternal sleep, and the princess can only be woken by “true love’s kiss”. In the meantime, the Aurora’s father becomes the formal villain, first by cutting off the young Maleficent wings in order to gain the throne, and later by attempting to kill Maleficent and take over her homeland (more on that shortly). We might also note that no character is purely “evil” as such, and instead we are shown that many of the characters’ actions, however wrong, often come from legitimate feelings of anger and hurt. And on that note …

Human monsters, internal demons

In the traditional fairy tale, the threat to human life is always external; it is the giant, the dragon, the ogre and the witch. In Sleeping Beauty it has always been the evil fairy now called Maleficent. But in this movie, human beings themselves are the threat, and they are driven by simple greed. They want to take over the Moors, the magical land where Maleficent lives. Interestingly, the Disney Wiki page for the film mentions that the Moors is “home to magical creatures and fairies, whom had no ruler due to their intensely close friendship and trust in one another”  in contrast to the human kingdom ruled by a “ruthless” king. This is a sure indicator of a visionary theme, using the allegories of the human kingdom and the magical Moors to differentiate between the present survival of the fittest mentality and the ideal of altruism and cooperation respectively.

Maleficent (played by Angelina Jolie) is the most powerful fairy in the Moors and though she is not the official ruler, she is the most loved by its inhabitants, some of whom would be deemed physically repulsive in human eyes.

Maleficent (played by Angelina Jolie) is the most powerful fairy in the Moors and though she is not the official ruler, she is the most loved by its inhabitants, some of whom would be deemed physically repulsive in human eyes.

Greed similarly is the inner demon that compels Stefan to betray his “true love” Maleficent and cut off her wings, and this act marks him as the villain from this point. Similarly, Maleficent is clearly defined as the possessor of a good heart early on, when she decides not to doom the princess Aurora to death, and instead creates the key to undoing the spell. She also watches over the growing child from afar, when the pixies assigned to take care of the princess in the forest fail to do so properly. She eventually comes to love the child despite her bitterness over the past. She comes into direct contact with Aurora as a fifteen year old and the two form a mother-daughter type relationship. Soon after realising her feelings for the child, she attempts in vain to revoke the curse.

True love is spirit, not form

In both Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent, the sleeping princess can only be awoken by true love’s kiss. In both stories, the prince is supposed to be the one to wake her. But in Maleficent, the prince fails to awaken Aurora (in part because he had not known her for long), and there seems to be no hope. Overcome with grief, Maleficent kisses Aurora on the forehead – and that is when Aurora awakens. This again is a break from an ancient idea, namely that romantic love is the highest form of love, and that it can come instantly, at first sight. Or at the very least, it is challenging the conventional view of an ancient idea.

FrozenSince Disney is ultimately a commercial company, it might be said that this story reflects the modern age, in particular the rise of feminism. But I have reason to suspect it’s more than that. Last year’s release Frozen (inspired loosely by The Snow Queen) has touched upon exactly the same elements. Its villains are human; its monsters are emotional (fear and greed); it alludes to ideal social states, and again, the “true love” needed to break a spell comes not from the romantic lead, but from the love of a sister. And since Disney is also the world’s most famous vehicle for the fairy tale, surely these developments are not without significance?

Lights Back On

Having observed a 3 day blackout, this site and the SJ2 site are now back to normal.

As I write this the People’s Climate March is underway in Manhattan, New York, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is apparently among the estimated 100,000 people taking to the streets. London’s march earlier today attracted 40,000 people or more; and it’s one of around 2000 marches taking place around the world in this 24-hour period. Attendees are from every walk of life and represent a wide spectrum of groups including charities, environmental groups, farmers, fishermen, scientists, political leaders, popular celebrities, and faith groups, as well as hundreds of thousands of ordinary members of the public.

News agencies have quoted the organisers of the Manhattan event as having said they wanted to transform the climate question from being just “an environmental concern to an ‘everybody issue'”. From the turnout, I’d say they’ve already come a long way in making it so.

The Blackout Begins

Click the globe.

Click the globe, sign the petition.

Today, as over 4 million people in Scotland cast their votes in a referendum that could drastically change the future shape of the UK, both this site (by which I mean the main Libredux site) and the SJ2 site have begun a “blackout” in support of the upcoming People’s Climate March this Sunday (21 September 2014). If you haven’t done so already, do sign the climate change petition I posted about here recently. Just click on the image.

And if you are reading this, then that means you managed to sneak past this site’s blackout page somehow. Naughty, naughty!

In any case, both sites will be back up again as normal on Sunday evening.

The Most Important Petition You’ll Ever Sign

We are fast reaching a crisis point that affects us all, wherever we are. It’s more important than the economy, local or international; it’s more pressing than any war; a greater threat than any government, religious group or financial giant; it matters more than anything happening in any country. It’s the biggest issue of our time, and it affects not only our generation, but future generations as well. In short, it’s a question of life and death for every single person in every single country, and in fact, for every living thing on this planet.

I’m talking, of course, about climate change.

Global WarmingThe great tuning out

We’ve all been aware of climate change for a few decades. Many of us, myself included, have been hearing about it since childhood, and more and more often as we grew up. Unfortunately, these days we hear about it so much on the news and through other media that we’re tuning it out, treating it like some annoying advert that we don’t need to hear again and again.

But we do need to hear it. More importantly, we need to act. Immediately.

The well-known social activist site Avaaz.org has described it in these sobering words at their site and by email:

Scientist Julienne Stroeve has studied Arctic ice for decades. Every summer she travels to north to measure how much ice has melted. She knows that climate change is melting the ice fast, but a recent trip surprised even her. Vast areas of Arctic ice have disappeared, beyond our worst expectations.

This is what the experts warned us about. As the earth warms, it creates many “tipping points” that accelerate the warming out of control. Warming thaws the Arctic sea ice, destroying the giant white ‘mirror’ that reflects heat back into space, which massively heats up the ocean, and melts more ice, and so on. We spin out of control. In 2013 everything — storms, temperatures — was off the charts.

Scientists are screaming from the rooftops that climate change isn’t just a bit of warming and some more storms. No exaggeration, our actual *survival* is at risk — this is a fight to save the world.

UN Emergency Meeting

The situation is serious enough that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has arranged an emergency Climate Summit at the UN New York headquarters to be held on 23 September 2014. Social activist groups such as 350.org and Avaaz.org are already in the process of rallying ordinary people across the world to collectively call for affirmative action before it’s too late. They will be part of an international People’s Climate March on 21 September.

Add your voice

The ultimate aim of the march is to deliver a petition calling for the international community to make a concerted move away from dirty fuels like oil and coal, to 100% clean energy sources. If you think this sounds unfeasible, consider this: 20% of the world’s electricity is already generated from renewable sources, and solar power is now cheaper than coal in many countries, including the USA and Australia (in the case of the latter, consumer choice in favour of cheaper solar has made coal entirely unprofitable, prompting a British newspaper to declare: “Solar has won“). While this is all good news, we need to push for more.

The petition will be delivered to leaders at the summit, and it needs to have as many signatures as possible to make a positive impact. Avaaz has set up its petition online with a target of getting at least 3 million signatures. To add your voice, sign it here:

Avaaz Climate Petition

To help spread the word, you can share this post through the usual social media channels or email, simply by clicking the big “share” button at the bottom of this post.

This is not a climate change petition. This is the climate change petition. So make the call to save our planet. We have to.

Link to this post:

http://www.libredux.com/blog/2014/09/07/the-most-important-petition-youll-ever-sign

Further reading: 

Noam Chomsky | Owl of Minerva’s View: ISIS and Our Times

Postscript: This site and the Secular Jinnah site will be observing a “blackout” in the days just before the summit. This post will display at both sites’ home pages to help raise awareness.

“Visionary Fiction” Now Officially on Wikipedia

SK: Reproduced from the Visionary Fiction Alliance blog (18 August 2014):

Exciting news for all Visionary Fiction authors, readers and lurkers:

As of August 2014 a entry entitled “Visionary fiction” has been published on Wikipedia at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visionary_fiction

To read the rest of the article at the Visionary Fiction Alliance, click here