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The Askari-III Murders – So How Did You React To That News?

February 29th, 2012:

5 members of a family are found brutally murdered in the “secure” residential area of Askari III.

March 1, 2012:

Newspapers, tv channels – media in short – is abuzz with the murders. News spreads fast in the city of Karachi.

March 2, 2012:

I am at a hi-tea at a newly-added-to-the-friends’-list friend’s house. The house is beautiful. The food is yummlicious. The ladies are dressed to kill. And over the hors d’oeuvres and the freshly squeezed orange juice glasses, the topic of the Askari III murders is brought up. Conspiracy theories are spiraling out of control. The ladies are discussing, while sipping juice in a beautifully landscaped garden, what happened to the bodies, and who must’ve done it. Rumours, Gossip. Speculation. Some of the women are animatedly listening, interjecting with their two cents. Others are full-fledgedly into the rumour-monging. I am put off. My heart is feeling saddened. I do not know how to react. Thankfully, it’s call for the maghrib prayer. We get up. The conversation is discontinued.

March 8, 2012:

I am at an inter-active class of Islamic Studies, and we are about to start our lesson of Sahee Al-Bukhari. A participant whom I have known for a while – her face looks grieved, in pain, lost. I ask. She shares. The 5 people who lost their lives in the Askari III murder crime were her close relatives. “What had to happen happened. But what is extremely painful is how people are assuming things, and rumours have started. While condoling, people keep asking in hushed tones what happened, and want details….gory details,” she says, weeping with hurt. We quietly hear her out and make a dua (prayer) for the deceased.

March 11, 2012:

In the OPINION section, on page 8 of the newspaper DAWN, the daughter of the deceased elderly couple has voiced her pain over the callousness of media reports and people. She has had to openly talk about some family secrets. The letter reeks of pain.

I am sitting after reading her letter, trying to understand (as I shudder at the thought of imagining) in the spirit of empathy, what this daughter, and family and friends who ACTUALLY cared about those who lost their lives are going through. How their pain must be magnified by having to explain to people, as a retort to those questioning eyes and commentaries and speculations, what actually happened. As if their pain was not enough!

A hadith of Prophet Muhammad (saw) says: The beauty of a man’s Islam is to leave what does not concern him. (Tirmidhi) 

So many of us would be scandalized at the thought of sharing a dinner table where pork or wine may be served, for religious reasons. Yet, in our careless speculations and gossips, we end up committing so many sins that are even more heinous…..yes, I use the word sins……to also remind myself that all these are sins too: To talk behind someone’s back, specially a deceased person. To talk about what does not concern us. To cause hurt to an already grieving person instead of extending gentle, empathetic support. To harbour unfounded suspicion about others. To spread rumours. To not have empathy.

Leave religion aside. What is wrong, people? Do we have nothing better to do? To talk about? To discuss? Life is short. There is so much good we can do with the limited time we have been given. There is so much to be done. Why not use the same time doing something better? Cliched but true, that an idol mind IS indeed the devil’s workshop. Also, it is plain scary! To talk about someone in such a situation is plain scary. Wouldn’t you rather not talk about it?

Alive or dead, the lesser we discuss people, the better. For our own good.

For once, can we want for other’s what we would want in a similar situation? Karma! Do we respect the privacy of the deceased? Their sanctity? Do we think they’d like people to discuss what happened why, and exactly in what way were they slaughtered? If God Forbids we were in the position of the grieving family, what would we want? The answer lies therein!


About FarahnazZahidi

Journalist, writer, Communications practitioner, teacher, media trainer | Literature | Gender Parity | Peace | Islam | Very Desi | Chaai, not coffee.

6 responses »

  1. Strange. Just last night the subject of that horrendous crime came up between me and my husband and he said how the media wants us to believe all kinds of cooked up stories and then people go around conjecturing, adding their own bit, spreading those further and in all this the stigmas will live on about the deceased whereas the truth will be buried and the actual murderer(s) will either be roaming free for detained for a few years and freed because no evidence was found. Your observations and questions are so valid, but alas.

  2. JazakAllah Khairan……It saddens me that we as a nation have lost humanity. Whatever happens we make it into a drawing room discussion and that’s it. In this very case..every time I heard of the daughter remaining my heart went out for her…She no longer had any parents…just like that…..but wherever I went people had something to add to the story and it made me sad that they did not even know the son or the father.
    I just wish that we all as a society learn how to empathize and forget how to sensationalize…
    Thank you for bringing forward the truth and a prayer for the departed souls.

  3. May Allah place the departed souls in the highest levels of jannah… should refrain from passing comments about others in ways that causes them grief and hurt….we should all pay attention to the fact that every word we utter has a price tag attached to it so, are we willing to pay the price?
    in Surah Qa’f verse 18 it has been said:”not a word does he (or she) utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).”


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