Islamabad Favorite Tips by Ewingjr98
Islamabad Favorites: 39 reviews and 81 photos
Favorite thing: From Istanbul to Islamabad, and other Muslim cities you will find stray cats are very common. Many people who can barely feed their families will stop and give scraps of food to random cats daily. What gives?
It turns out cats enjoy a special status in Islam. This respect for these animals supposedly has roots in the prophet Muhammad's fondness of cats (can I write his name without a fatwa against me? please? Thanks!). Muhammad (PBUH) supposedly would cut off his sleeve rather than wake a cat that fell asleep on his clothing. It has been noted that tabby cats have an "M" on their foreheads, which could be the mark of Muhammad (PBUH).
Muhammad himself had a favorite cat named Muezza. It is said that Muhammad would drink from the same water the cat drank from, and he would even do ablutions before prayer with the water the cat had consumed.
Favorite thing: Pakistan sometimes has daylight savings time, and somethings it doesn't so sunrise can be somewhat unpredictable. Add in the local heavy smog, and the sunrise could also be invisible. The good news is the sun always rises in the east, just like the rest of the world.
Favorite thing: Grab a drink at a local store and the label may not be easy to read since it's written in Arabic script. Don't worry, most American brands are the same colors and have the same logos around the world as you will see when you find Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke. If you read Arabic, you will also realize the names of the drinks almost sound like the original American names (though Pepsi becomes "beebsee" when translated.) Oh, and if you are still confused, just turn the bottle or can around and read the English side of the label.
Favorite thing: Most utility trucks in Pakistan are known as "Jingle Trucks." These brightly colored trucks often have decorative chains or bells, which make a distinctive jingling sound while driving, hence their name. The color schemes vary from bright flowers to lions and tigers. A 2005 article from Amherst Magazine online claims that the average trucks customization costs $5000 US, even though the average annual income is closer to $2000 US per person. This article also points out the different styles of the various regions of Pakistan with the Pashtun areas using more wooden designs on the trucks and Punabi trucks having shaped metal and plastics. All parts of the country use a variety of bright symbols including religious symbols, scenery, and occasional patriotic symbols.
Favorite thing: Generically, halal just means legal or lawful, but its real meaning is food permissible according to Islamic law. Islam has two meanings for Halal, both types of food that can be eaten and certain ways of slaughtering animals for eating. Halal killing of animals for food is defined as a quick, deep incision of an animal's neck leading to a sudden death with lots of blood leaving the body.
Haram, or not lawful or permissible, items include pork, blood, and alcohol, as well as foods cross contaminated with the latter, including pharmaceuticals and cosmetics contaminated with animal byproducts.
Of course, halal and humane are not synonyms. Experts claim halal killing is very inhumane as animals suffer fro up to two minutes as their bloods runs over the ground. Yay!
Favorite thing: The Quran (or Koran) is the central text of Islam and is said to be the word of God as recorded by Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) between the years 610 and 632 CE.
The Quran is for sale in many of the bookshops in Kabul, though the copies are often kept locked up in a glass case. I have also seen digital copies of the Quran available.
Favorite thing: OK there are a few drones according to all of the news sources. Eurasia Review reports the first drone strike took place in June 2004 in South Waziristan. Under American President Bush, there were about 21 total drone attacks, killing perhaps 177 people. Under President Obama, attacks have increased tremendously with 87 drone attacks, leaving 700 dead (data as of August 15th 2010). Some reports indicate that these drone strikes have killed over 600 civilians and just 60 militant leaders.
C. Christine Fair writes, however, that the so-called "innocent" civilians are often supporters or collaborators of the militants that were targeted. She even notes that residents of the FATA know the drones are precise, so instead of fearing the drones, the locals just avoid people who might be targeted.
Favorite thing: Throughout the Capital Region of Islamabad and Rawalpindi you will notice heightened security. Government buildings, the embassy areas, major Western hotels, airports, military bases and more are lined with barricades, wire and armed guards. The "red-zone" is the name of the security area around parliament, the prime minister's house, and other major federal government buildings.
2008-2009 was the worst year in Pakistan history (other than the partition of India itself). Warnings still persist, cautioning travelers to avoid crowded markets, mosques during Friday prayers, and the tribal areas in general. As of summer 2010, Karachi and Quetta had more problems than Islamabad.
Favorite thing: Probably the funniest thing I saw in Islamabad was the boys washing windows of cars stopped at a light. Our driver takes this same route every day, and the same boys take their dirty old squeegee, smear up his window, then expect a tip. After a few times of this, our driver got sick of it, so when the boys show up he waves them off. They are aggressive, so they go about smearing up his window. He honks, he yells, then he runs his wipers and sprays water. They finally get the point, but they insist on glaring in the windows like punk American kids.
It was all pretty comical, but it also makes one wonder why these kids were on the street rather than in school in the early afternoon on a weekday.
Feet washers for ablution
Favorite thing: Pakistan is considered about 97 percent Muslim, and the official state religion is Islam, according to the Constitution (though the Constitution does provide equal protection under the law for all religious groups). Small groups of other religions exist including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists.
Islamabad has two main mosques: the Faisal Mosque and the Lal Masjid. The Faisal Mosque, when completed in 1986 was the world's largest mosque, but five others are now bigger. This "national mosque" of Pakistan can host 300,000 worshipers at once. Its 260 foot minarets are the tallest in South Asia.
The Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, was constructed in 1965 and is one of the oldest mosques in Islamabad. It is home to a large madrassah with Islamist roots. In 2007, after a long siege by the government, the military was sent in to storm the mosque. 100 people were said to have been killed in the raid. Many consider the siege of the Red Mosque a major trigger of the growing militancy in Pakistan.
You also will see small signs of Islam around the capital city, such as a large number of mosques, rugs that say Allah on them, the call to prayer five times a day, and more. My favorite is the feet washers for Muslims to perform ablutions prior to praying.
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