Saturday, 27 September 2014

Persecuted in Pakistan-A Retraction?

Two years ago when I started this blog, I wrote a lengthy report on the persecution of Christians in Pakistan.

My basic argument was that persecution was a indeed rampant in Pakistan, but Christians have much to be thankful for. 

However, as the first anniversary of the Peshawar Church bombing has passed (meanwhile the KP government is busy asking the Prime Minister to resign), and Pastor Zafar Bhatti is imprisoned for committing 'blasphemy' charges (thank God he wasn't killed when a policeman shot down another blasphemy convict in jail), I have started to wonder if my reasoning is correct.

I also like to note that in my report, I talked about notable Christians in the history of Pakistan. Are these examples enough for Christians at large to be hopeful of their future in this country? I have to started to question my own optimism. After all, hundred examples can be cited of notable African Americans who made contributions to art, sciences, literature, and politics prior to the civil rights movement. But we know what the general scenario was. The same is true for Christians in Pakistan.

However, I was right in saying that we face a relatively lesser threat than our Shiite and Ahmedi brethren, who are still victims of mob violence and targeted killing, much more than other minorities. 

Before closing,however, I would like to add one more point that I clearly missed in my 2012 blog post: Even if Christians are not as widely persecuted as the religious groups mentioned above, we are perhaps the greatest victims of intellectual persecution in Pakistan. 

Consider the fact that Islamic and Urdu textbooks in Pakistan feature content that, if not hate speech, is definitely propagandist in nature.

For instance, I remember a book on Urdu short stories in primary school, and one of these stories was about a notable Christian convert to Islam. How does that help us to understand the nuances and grammar of the language, I fail to understand. 

And I have yet to come across an Islamic textbook that criticizes beliefs of any other religious group or Islamic sect as much as Christianity. Textbooks openly mentioned that the Church has corrupted the Holy Bible, and now it is no longer in its original form.

In fact, the average Pakistani (Shiite and Ahmedi included) is taught from his/her childhood that the Bible has been and still is being corrupted by Christians. If the Christian majority countries started labelling this as blasphemy, how many local Muslims will end up in jail (and ultimately the gallows)?


Friday, 19 September 2014

Failure Changes Us, But Sometimes We Fail to Change

I am a slow learner. All the basic things in life that a boy my age is supposed to know, I learned them quiet late.

Basic bathroom rules, tying shoes laces, drinking milk in a glass instead of a baby bottle, and so on.

I was not the physically proficient as well, as far as sports were concerned.  

Why am I talking about all this today? Because I feel the need to put some things in perspective. The mind can process only so much information, and hence it is better to write it down. 

Life is not going smooth. As time passes, I am realizing that it isn't supposed to go smooth. And yet we are expected to stay calm and keep moving forward. 

I still remember the day when I woke up during the school holidays and sat at the breakfast table. As I was eating, my parents broke the news that they collected my result from school, and that I had failed the 9th grade. 

I didn't know to how respond. Neither did my parents. This mutual numbness (for a lack of a better term) continues to this day whenever we are faced with bad news.

It was sad to have flunked, but even worse was the fact that I couldn't bring myself to understand the situation. Was I supposed to apologize, grieve, or hurt myself? I couldn't  bring myself to open up emotionally, and hurting yourself physically requires courage, which I obviously lack. 

But then the best thing happened to me. I was born again.

To cut the long story short, I was experiencing a change in life as started my personal journey in the Christian faith.

I found something that gave direction to my life and I was able to push myself through school, while also managing to get couple of other personal issues resolved .All the while, I engaged in worship, research, debate, and fellowship.

Things went on like this for another 5 years, and then I woke up one day to realize that we are going through a financial crisis. Once again, I did not how to react. The numbness returned.

Anger and frustration started boiling inside, and eventually it all burst out. My emotions got the better of me, and this changed my relationship with the people closest to me. 

Today, I have put on more weight than I had when I started my life in Christ, even though the Bible calls gluttony a sin. I also experience occasional bouts of anger and depression. I am also exhausted, both mentally and physically, which is why you may notice some typos despite the fact I did proof-read the article.   
It as if failure once changed me for the better, but now I have failed to change myself.

But there are other things that happened in this same period:

  • I developed a personal collection of books on topics like evolution, astro-physics, comparative religion, history, poetry, psychology, and of course, Christian theology. Currently I am reading Jacobo Timerman's The Longest War and The Greek Myths by Robert Graves.       
  • Still an undergraduate, I am earning way more than a minimum wage in a country marred by unemployment. 
What is the moral of the story? At 22, I am too young to make a learned comment on what pattern a person's life takes. But what I do know is that as my faith changes me for the better, I have not grown immune to failing. New challenges will influence me, but God will continue to make his presence known.

Thanks for reading.

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