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Interfaith Dialogue (22 Mar 2012 NewAgeIslam.Com)

An Infected Conversion

By Faiza Mirza  

March 12, 2012

Festivals, whether religious or cultural, have always fascinated me and being a devout advocate of coexistence I enjoy celebrating Christmas, Eid, Navroz and Diwali with my friends — an act which is unfortunately officially ‘extinct’ now.

The festival of Holi, which remains one of my favourites, took place last week and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, however my celebrations were slightly overshadowed by surreptitious glances that I received from strangers. Do I blame them to be sceptical towards me? Have I given them any reason to treat me with such paranoia? Perhaps we all know the correct answer.

The recent rise in forced conversions, killings and kidnappings for ransom targeting non-Muslims, specifically the Hindus of Pakistan, proves that intolerance and bigotry in our society runs deeper than we’d care to admit.

Whether our society has always alienated and harassed people who profess other religions or if this is a ‘trend’, a recent ‘development’ which is haunting everyone, including Muslims who demand peace and coexistence, are questions that can best be answered by someone who has been living in Pakistan since the time of its establishment.

Hari Motwani, former Member Manager Committee of Pakistan Hindu Council said, “The situation was never as bad as it has become. I remember the good old days when we were invited to Qawwali evenings and Naat competitions. We participated in all Muslim religious festivals and our sentiments were reciprocated wholeheartedly, however now it is extremely difficult for us to trust anyone,”

“When your daughters and sons are at stake, everything seems threatening,” added Motwani, whose own nephew was kidnapped and has been missing for the past three months.

The endless horror tales that I read and hear about people, who suffer from the ‘minority syndrome’ in Pakistan, make me question who are the culprits behind these vicious acts and most importantly what factors influence them to act in such an inhumane way.

My religious knowledge might not be ‘at par’ with the so-called advocates of faith but I do know certainly that there is no compulsion in religion. Coercing and threatening Hindus to accept Islam will most likely not land us a palatial mansion in heaven. Kidnapping and killing them for ransom will never be justified and above all ‘expunging’ them from the country will not ‘bless’ us in any way whatsoever.

Hindus constitute almost 2.5 per cent of the overall population of Pakistan and most Hindu families have been living in the country before 1947’s partition. Raja Assermal, a businessman of Sikh origin said, “My family has a 1000 years worth of history in Pakistan. We identify with this country because this is our homeland. Many Hindus have migrated but we will not change our ‘abode’ and will continue to fight for our rights.”

Assermal claims that Hindus are being targeted everywhere, however, the situation in Sindh is critical and deteriorating with the passage of each day. Whilst narrating the abduction and forced conversion of a 17-year-old Hindu girl, he demanded for their civil rights and urged the authorities to protect them from the miscreants.

Intolerance and ubiquity of the pseudo-religious clerics continue to tarnish young minds. Blaming everything on the authorities, lack of true Islamic knowledge and illiteracy will not change the situation. Measures taken in individual capacity can be extremely motivating for people who face the brunt of being a non-Muslim in Pakistan. In order to develop a society which is ethnically rich and civilised, tolerance and accommodation of each other’s ideas play a predominant role.

A society which fails to accept its own people is perhaps more vulnerable and prone to disintegrate. Perhaps our own set of insecurities plays a vital role in considering other people and factions inferior.

We consider ourselves safe which is why most of us do not voice our condemnation toward such crimes, however, our realm is as penetrable and susceptible to the dangers of bigotry. Each targeted temple and attacked individual push us closer to the precipice of doom.

It is time to take measures to curb the hostilities toward Pakistani Hindus. It is time to identify the culprits behind the terrifying abductions and forced conversions of non-Muslims in Pakistan. It is indeed time to make amendments by making individual efforts to save people professing other religions before it’s too late.

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan,” is the most highlighted phrase of one of the most significant speeches made by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

However, the question is if Jinnah had been a witness to the barbarism which rules Pakistan now; would he still dream of creating Pakistan?

The writer is a Reporter at Dawn.com

Source: The Dawn, Karachi

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/interfaith-dialogue/faiza-mirza/an-infected-conversion/d/6898


  • Indian muslim enemies are indian muslim attitude nothing else. It is habit for abrahmic religion to blame others for all problem rather than dwell inside to find the weakness inside them that has been exploited by external threats.
    By satwa gunam - 3/25/2012 10:42:40 PM

  • Indian Muslims belong to India and India belongs to Indian Muslims. Anyone posing any objection or impediment will be met with full force. Indian Muslims have given biggest sacrifice for India. Their families got divided. They suffered financially. And they continue to suffer all the insults to injury, but the love for their Fatherland is one thing, that brings out the patriotism in them. Those who opted for Pakistan did treachery and are now openly on the other side of the boundary of India. 
    However Indian Muslims have an enemy within to deal with. They are Jansanghis who are traitors and caused Fatherland to get divided and srink in size. To add to this crime, these Jansanghi wear a garb of nationalism, but which is actually pseudo-nationalism. The only reason why these pseudo-nationals are not sufficiently punished for their treachery is that they hide themselves behind truly nationalist Hindus but who are easy going do not want to get into the crossfire between Indian Muslims and Jansanghis and also they are too busy in their day to day activity to spare any time for what nation destroying activity these Jansanghis are continuing to do. If only such truly nationalist Hindus had shown any interest, together with other Patriots, that is Indian Muslims, they could have 'ethnically cleansed' Jansanghis out of the face of Fatherland India. But alas, they are too inert.
    By sadaf - 3/25/2012 1:02:38 PM

  • JB says, " How long can Hindu India carry the burden of their Muslim population...."

    That comment is as hateful and ugly as Ghazanfar Khan's remark. Indian Muslims are not hostages whose fate depends on how neighboring countries treat their minorities. But Indian Muslims, together with India's Hindus must speak up in support of Pakistani Hindus and try to bring sanity to that country with whatever peaceful means are available.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/24/2012 7:33:13 PM

  • Unfortunately Ghazanfar Khan's interpretation of Shariah is what’s having traction in the Muslim world. People like Ghulam Mohiyuddin can cry all they want, but without the connivance of the majority of the Pakistani Muslims there is no way the Hindu population in Pakistan is in such a bad situation today. To extrapolate further, mainstream Islam is what you see form Pakistan today. How long can Hindu India carry the burden of their Muslim population when their co-religionists are butchered in Afghanistan/Pak/Bangladesh. It’s only a matter before this happens in Kerala/West Bengal/Tamil Nadu/AP. Tomorrow my grandchildren will ask what their grandfather was doing to prevent this catastrophe when they were fully aware of what happened to one Hindu Punjab/Sindh/Balochistan/Bengal/Kashmir/Afghanistan? That is the question facing the average Hindu today.
    By JB - 3/24/2012 2:10:26 PM

  • Unfortunately elements like Ghazanfar Khan is in maximum in pakistan. Secular forces had kept quiet for three decades for this virus to get mixed with the mass. I would also blame the western country who were so short sighted that they did not see the implication of the polarization. Further it also brings out the attitude of pakistani muslim who cares a damn about what is happening or will happen for indian muslim. However indian muslim will start crying for pakistan, palestine but not for hindus in kashmir.
    By satwa gunam - 3/23/2012 11:24:03 PM

  • Ghazanfar Khan's comment implies that Indian Muslims must be treated in the same way that Pakistani Hindus are treated. As an Indian Muslim I do not know how to react to his statement.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/23/2012 8:32:06 PM

  • Faiza's understanding of the shari'ah is nonsense. She must understand that Pakistan is actually at war with Hindu India, and the rules and rewards of wartime are different from peacetime. In peacetime the non-Muslims can live under dhimma laws, but in war they become a fifth column for the mushrikeen. Faiza here is mischievously quoting out of context. If she likes Holi so much she should move to India.
    By Ghazanfar Khan - 3/23/2012 1:35:38 PM

  • Thanks Faiza Mirza for writing this article. More and more such voices against religious intolerance must be raised in Pakistan. Protection of and uplifting the social and legal status of Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadis must be an immediate priority of Pakistan.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/22/2012 3:28:49 PM

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