Book Reviews (English)

My Pakistan: The Story of a Bishop

 


My Pakistan

Title: MY Pakistan,The Story of a Bishop

Author: Dr Alexander John Malik

ILQA Publications: Lahore, 2018

Pages 246, ISBN: 978-969-640-130-8

     

Dr Alexander John Malik’s autobiography of sorts, My Pakistan: The Story of a Bishop, is a testament of his people, the Christians of Pakistan as well as a historical critique of Pakistan’s complicated relations to her minorities written in an emotionally gripping and intellectually challenging style. Reading it invokes a host of emotions intermingled with intellectual tensions as some of the most pressing issues facing them are incisively analysed. While Pakistan (the country) is a socio-political miracle of turning a minority into a majority, and a community into a nation, My Pakistan (the book) is a story of a   young Pakistani, who stood first in University of Serampore, India (1967) in his subject (History of Religions), and then decided to leave his PhD studies incomplete at McGill University, Canada (1972), to return to Pakistan, against his family’s wishes, to stay ‘true to the oath of canonical obedience’. Thus, it is Dr Malik’s narrative of his struggles to stay true to his, rather two different types of, and often competing for devotion, loves: one for his religion – Christianity, and the other for his country – Pakistan. As the narrative is penned in first person, it becomes also an account of his spiritual journey which took him to many places all around the world but one that also  drove him to his knees, and to his Lord.

My Pakistan is an intriguing mix of honest recollections, evaluations, ambitions, sacrifices, service to community (both Christians and non-Christians), hopes, and inadvertent involvements in politics, patriotism and a human attempt to make a sense of it all. It is also a chronology of some regrettable events and broken promises by the leaders of the country and author’s unwavering patriotism despite all these. This saga covers a period of over seven decades and is played out among people whose civilization goes back to antiquity.

The book is divided into four parts, but reads like a fluid, coherent narrative. In the first part, “Pakistan and its challenges”, the events of author’s life are intertwined with those taking place at the national level. This narration sets the scenes for the discussions that follow in the next three parts. It encompasses background of the situations that lead to the division of India into two separate countries. Along with this, the author painstakingly explains the nature of the state Quaid-e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah really wanted: secular not religious. His views here are laid out in a logical order, and presented in a very persuasive manner; of course no matter how persuasively the point is argued in favour of a secular Pakistan, the nation’s religious right is not going to change their stance easily and this is one intellectual battle that does not seem resolvable the foreseeable future.

The process of Islamization of Pakistan started soon after Quaid’s death, i.e. with the passing of the Objectives Resolution (07 March 1949). From then onwards, it has been all downhill for the minorities. Some Muslim religious/political parties, who originally opposed the very idea of Pakistan, have gradually hijacked the ideological narrative of the state until General Zia ul Haq completed the Islamization in the eighties. Zia’s Pakistan is poles apart from the one envisioned by Jinnah. This has been a raw deal for the non-Muslims i.e. as a result ‘the zakat, which is a religious fund, is reserved only for the Muslims’ and ‘Twenty extra marks are given to Hafiz-e-Quran to determine merit for professional colleges and even for selection for posts in the Central Superior Services’.(p113)

Another ongoing debate is about ‘two-nation theory’, which was a useful tool for acquiring Pakistan as a separate homeland for the minorities, of which Muslims were, then, the biggest. It is a little known fact that Christians (All India Christian Association) offered their unconditional support and cooperation  to Mr. Jinnah and when the Boundary Commission was set up Christians demanded that for the purposes of boundary demarcation they (Christians) be counted as Muslims.  The fact that the Christian leaders’ vote helped secure the present Punjab for Pakistan is better known but hardly ever acknowledged.

Despite all this the way Christians have been threatened, targeted, mistreated and attacked in Pakistan, especially after Zia’s Islamization ventures, have de facto rendered them as second class citizens. Some of these incidents have been categorized and chronologically catalogued (p.115 -134). In the coming years this information will surely serve as a record and reference and hopefully will guide the future policy makers into making sound policy decisions.

In Part two, appropriately entitled, “Despite fractured citizenship, minorities continue to serve Pakistan”, the author, in a balanced and communally fair approach, pays full credit to all religious minorities for serving and building Pakistan. He mentions many non-Christians who have contributed to the development of Pakistan like the Bhandaras, Cowasjees, and Bogas (Parsis), Sir Zafarulla Khan and Dr Abdus Salam (Ahmadis) and Jogender Nath Mandal and others (Hindus). He then focuses on those who have suffered the injustices of Pakistan’s social and political issues like Mashal Khan, a 24-year old student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, who was lynched by a mob of fellow students on alleged blasphemy (p133).

Dr Malik proudly states, ‘Thousands of high-ranking officers of the Armed Services of Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force, and the Pakistan Navy have studied in Christian Schools/Colleges’(p154). He also presents an abridged listing of ‘some prominent educationists’, stating that not doing so will be ‘a great omission’. In addition to their illustrious contributions in the field of education and health Christians have contributed their services and sacrificed their lives in the defence of Pakistan.  For this section the authors draws heavily on the research done by Azam Mairaj, and published under the (Urdu) title, Sabz wa sfed hilali parcham kay muhafiz wa shohda. The list of decorated Christian Army, Naval and Air Force officers is long and impressive (p 161-168). And reading about their courageous deeds and sacrifices fills one with both national, as well as communal, pride. Records are crystal clear that even in the field of defence Christians have been punching above their weight.

In part three, “Challenges to maintaining a balance between the heavenly and earthly citizenship” the author relates how the agitation of J. Salik entangled him into a situation where the government threatened him with an arrest. Salik was a popular Christian leader who demanded that Christians should be given time on the state media channels, and that no exams must be held on Sundays, this being their day of worship. Salik’s second demand was accepted, his popularity soared and he was later elected to the National Assembly.

Pakistan’s capital was moved from Karachi to the new, purpose-built city Islamabad in 1960. However, the ground breaking ceremony for her first proper church, St Thomas’s Church, did not take place until October 17, 1988. And even then, in response to the demonstrations against Salman Rushdie’s ‘blasphemous’ novel, The Satanic Verses, an attempt was made to demolish it when its walls were hardly six/seven feet high.  Finally, after many twists and turns, the author had the honour of consecrating a part of the building on September 11, 1991, which now after completion is one of the most beautiful buildings in Islamabad.

Soon after 9/11, the USA President George Bush declared war against ‘every terrorist group of global reach’, and even though neither he, nor the then President of Pakistan Gen. Pervez Musharraf  ‘consult(ed) the Christians of Pakistan’ in this matter, it was they (the Christians of Pakistan) who were punished for the events that followed. When Pakistan’s sacrifices are banded about in the war against terrorism, it must be remembered that the Christians of Pakistan have paid more than their fair share in the bargain, and have had to endure the misconceptions that they somehow represent or belong to the American side just for being Christians.

The last part, part four, entitled “The way forward” is a short conclusion, almost like a benediction, and is a resounding affirmation that Pakistan is a great country and its citizens make it a great nation. The author concludes his discourse stating, ‘I especially wish to address my co-religionists to reiterate once again: the essence of My Pakistan is that Pakistan is our country. We are the sons and daughters of Pakistan.’ This is what makes it more of a Testament of a people rather than just a biography of a priest. The book ends with the prayer of St Francis of Assisi, the most fitting way for a bishop to end any meaningful endeavour, including the writing of a book.

The task of covering over seven decades of a nation’s history, in a single volume is daunting by any standard; hence there must necessarily be omissions. As a reviewer, I have noted this to be the case in certain topics discussed. These ‘omissions’, however, do not dampen the flow of the narrative, nor the prolificity with which the matter covered is expounded. Dr Malik, has carefully chosen his tools and his materials to work with and with them has masterfully produced a coherent, concise, and yet a complete narrative. My opinions, not withstanding, in the end it is his book, and I am just a reviewer. The topics covered fit well to carry his memories and to convey his message.

My Pakistan is not the type of book to be read and shelved; it is the type to be read and to be discussed and to be contemplated upon.  The author delves into issues that are of crucial importance to the Christian community, i.e. misuse of the Blasphemy Laws, kidnappings of the non-Muslim women, sale and land-grab issues of the church properties and forced conversions into Islam, the Church’s mandate to evangelise and minister and others. To this end I believe, My Pakistan: The Story of a Bishop is a valuable addition to the growing corpus of literature by the Christians of Pakistan about the Christians of Pakistan, and would highly recommend it to all those who want to understand the private pains, political aspirations and above all an unwavering patriotism of the Pakistani Christians. My Pakistan is not an assertion of owning Pakistan, but a proclamation of belonging to it in every conceivable way.

Neglected Christian Children of Indus


Neglected Christian Children ...

 

Title: Neglected Christian Children of Indus

Author: Azam Mairaj  (Tr. from Urdu into English:Michelle Azam Mairaj)

Publisher: Mairaj Publications, Karachi, 2018

Pages: 173

ISBN: 978969-7708-03-01

 

Azam Mairaj’s latest book, Neglected Christian Children of Indus is, on the one hand, an album of word-portraits and an archive of losses and pains, but on the other, it is also a kaleidoscope of historical injustices and socio-political analyses of a people in search for both their identity and their destiny.  In this 174 page volume the author tries to unburden a soul-suffocating emotional baggage and a weight of unresolved pains.  He seems to be under a huge amount of emotional pressure to cover its many aspects in a few short pages: the rightful claim of his people to their ancestral land, in which they now live a humiliating life, the diagnosis and the prognosis of their psychological ailments, (including social inertia and self-pity), and the convoluted mental states of their so called leaders, are a few but salient aspects of his work. All of Mairaj’s characters, both the protagonists and the antagonists, in Neglected Christian Children are real. However, though not a work of fiction, the sting in the plight of its characters could be neither sharper nor deeper, nor their miseries more loathsome even if the author had created them as the figments of his imagination. Here the reality is much more convoluted and cruel than fiction could ever be.   The reader meets Chacha Younus and Pa’h Farman, Younas Khokar and Michael along with several others. Each character typifies some deep-seated complex and characterises Pakistan’s present day Christian community’s denial of ownership of the real issues. Each character, in turn, grows on the reader’s nerves and clings on to his conscience without ever finding an adequate resolution. The reader is gradually drawn deeper and deeper into the web spun by the storyteller. The stories continue, but the resolution is ever evasive. This strange experience carries on even when Mairaj shifts his focus from the common characters to the special ones like J. Salik (The Sick Saviour) and Kamran Dost (Magistrate cum sweeper) and a Station Master. The problems of his subject matter, it seems, are all pervasive and of pandemic proportions, and this reviewer feels that the author finds a cathartic release in exposing them just as they are!

For a student of Pakistan’s Christians community this little volume is a treasure trove. It sheds light on many undefined terms like Sannsi, Gughra, Musslee, Tapriwas, Bhangi, etc. It also provides a historical insight for why Goanese Christians have Portuguese surnames. Mairaj convincingly proves that today’s down-trodden Christian community are the decedents of the real original inhabitants of these lands. They were here before the Aryans, the Huns, the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Rajpoots, the Turks and the Mongol conquerors, mixed their blood with the natives and became the ruling classes of these lands.

Mairaj has tried to do in one volume, that for which most authors would have required at least two if not three.  His work is compact, and his writing style is intense and passionate; like a man not guided by his convictions but instead driven by them. A unique, and for this reviewer a very pleasant aspect of the present work is the authors allegorical use of plants throughout its pages. He employs his botanical knowledge to create vicarious dialogues in the local flora to communicate the messages which otherwise remain unsaid by his human characters.  These conversations among the trees, palms and shrubs are ruthlessly honest and to the point.  Trees talk and the reader gets the message. (This style is reminiscent of a passage in the Holy Bible, Judges 9: 8-16.)

The book’s pages are interspersed appropriately with Urdu and Punjabi poetic verses from the sufic wisdom tradition, placed as bouquets on a dining table, though, not part of the menu they make the meal so much more palatable, though not enjoyable. It is also a testament to the writer’s vast reading and studying habits, always a plus for any author.

This book is not written to be enjoyed. After reading it once, I went over its various passages time and time again. I did not enjoy the book. Yet, I kept returning to it, again and again.  This book is written, I believe, to provoke thinking, to stimulate debate and make the reader uneasy, even angry, and to think hard to the point of action. If these are the objectives of the author, he has succeeded spectacularly. In it the reader meets towering figures like wing commander Lesley Mervyn Middlecoat (Shaheed on 12 December 1971, Indo-Pak war) the only martyr of the Pakistan Air Force to be awarded the Stiara-e-Jurat twice, Major Sarmus Rauf TBt, Tamgha-e-Basalat (war against extremism in Waziristan), Haroon Mall and Mr. Demelo, Chairman of Pakistan’s railways, Francis X Lobo, the renowned import/export businessman who was also the head of the Hale-e-Ahmar (The Red Crescent) society, Vice admiral Leslie Norman Mungavin Deputy naval chief, and many others. The author’s point is simple, if they could do it why can’t you. His battle cry is clear, “yes you can!” Through this book he is endeavouring to show the Christian youth, this is possible, and “do-able”. To this end the writer has also established a movement, Mairaj Memorial Social Awareness Programme Pakistan (MMSAEPP) which is an ideological endeavour to establish the honourable identity of Pakistani Christians in the Pakistani society. Through it he is involved in raising the awareness among the Christian youth. The programme is based around 6-points, which are drilled into the attendees to help them understand and take positive steps towards reclaiming their rightful place in their own country. (This is all detailed in the book.)

The author is a realist, so while he is appreciative of the church’s role in uplifting the native Christians he is also critical of their present day degeneracy. In Mairaj’s own words, “It is a bitter reality that the deterioration of this system of our churches is pushing us towards the same misery that these churches had pulled us out of.”(p138-9). The reviewer fully and whole-heartedly agrees with this analysis. However, the reviewer holds serious reservation about the arguments presented and the conclusions drawn in “The Statistical Myth” (p128 -134). This being the only chapter in which I believe more intensive work needs to be done, as my own conclusions, based on historical references, data sources available to me and statistical tools lead me to different conclusions. (Having stated this I will not labour the point here, but will address it in detail in some later work.)

Over all, Neglected Christian Children of Indus is a valuable addition to our literature. I feel privileged to be its first reviewer and would like others more qualified and more skilled than myself to come forward and evaluate the worth of this gem of book. Some books are like meals, they have to be tasted, swallowed and digested: in short, enjoyed. Others are like medicines, they also have to be ingested and digested, though they might not be enjoyed. This book belongs to the latter class. As our community is far from being in a state of radiant health, this book-medicine was greatly needed, and now, must not be ignored.  I would like to congratulate the author, and end by stating that this is one book that must not be neglected, and certainly must not be neglected by the Neglected Christian Children of Indus – that is all of us!

PS: This book review first appeared in the magazine, The Minorities' View, (Feb. 2019) and can be accessed at their website: www.theminoritiesview.org

The Wounded Healer


The Wounded Healer

 

Title: The Wounded Healer, Ministry in contemporary society

Author: Henri J.M. Nouwen

 Publisher: Penguin Random House: New York,  1979

Pages: 128

ISBN: 0-385-14803-8

 

 

 

Henri J Nouwen says that we live in a world of hatred and oppression where men and women are seeking and calling out for a Messiah who would liberate them from their tyranny of the oppressors and let peace and justice prevail in their midst. But how do they find and recognize this “Messiah” or “liberator”?

The writer presents an illustration in which he relates a short dialog that takes place between a Rabbi and Prophet Elijah about the long awaited Messiah. The prophet tells the Rabbi that he will find the Messiah among the poor covered with wounds and while others unbind all their wounds at the same time and then bind them up, the Messiah, unbinds his wounds, one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself that he must be ready to help others any moment he is called out to. That is to say, he must be ready at all times to reach out to help others, wasting no time in binding up all his wounds. Thus, the Messiah amongst the poor is the minister who first must acknowledge his own wounds, unbind and bind them very carefully but let not his wounds become a pretext or excuse for not reaching out to the other wounded who may need him any time. Thus, he is to be the wounded minister and the wounded healer.

This story from the Talmud reminds us of Jesus who before his crucifixion had the last Passover meal with his disciples and broke the bread and gave it to the disciples saying this is my body that is broken for you and my blood that is shed for you and for many so that they may have salvation. This also reminds us of the Bible verse, “by his wound we are healed”

The writer goes on to delineate the meaning of the wounds of a minister. The minister of the modern times, he says, is indeed a wounded minister, in that s/he is a lonely and isolated man/woman who in the modern materialistic world sees his/her role changed dramatically and limited drastically.  The role of the minister has changed and so has the meaning of his ministry. A minister today is hardly the minister of the yonder days as s/he is obliged to make too many compromises and adjustment to the demands of the time. And with this painful reality, s/he goes out to perform his/ her duties in the routine-mode. The minister is very much conscious of this dilemma.

Personal Loneliness

The culture of a growing cut-throat competition and a world seeped in loneliness fails to recognize and acknowledge its dilemma but tries to defy it by countering it with false pleasures and treating it with fake remedies as psychotherapies, “huggers” social entertainments and media limelight. The more they seek such “escapes” the more they sink deeper into the depth of loneliness and despair, as the emptiness and the hollowness of their inner being is never satiated.

The minister of today is kept at the peripheral edge of the lives of the society. He is no more welcomed as “man of God” or “an honored guest”. His role has been limited to an “extra” or only when he is needed for a specific purpose, thus, “he is not taken seriously” when things are just fine. In other words, he is not man of the “fine weather” but that of a storm and crisis.

The writer further delineates this view by emphatically proclaiming that the Christian way of life does not necessarily take away our loneliness and emptiness (wounds)  but helps us utilizes it to transcend beyond it in order to understand others’ loneliness and emptiness. But this can only happen if we first recognize (be aware of) and acknowledge our own loneliness and emptiness (wounds). Thus, instead of allowing our inner loneliness and emptiness (wounds) to become destructive, we, as Christians, ought to utilize them to heal others’ loneliness and emptiness (wounds) it is the cross that for Jesus was source of excruciating pain and suffering but became a symbol of salvation for all who embraced its message. (Through his wounds we were healed) We, therefore, have a choice to either let our loneliness and emptiness (wounds) become a cause of self-destruction or a source of healing for others when we are able to see them in the same condition. (empathy

Helen Keller (blind, the deaf and mute) once while addressing a school group of blind children at a school for the blind and mute, said in her very limited articulation, “I know every step of the way you walk, as I have been there”. Jesus forewarned his disciples and followers that the world will persecute and hate them, just as they did to him, but he overcame the world, not by retaliating but by using the same pain, persecution and suffering to reach out to them and connect with them.

In Search of “the ideal”

The writer further goes on to say that the problem with the modern world is that it tries to fill its loneliness by seeking for “the ideal”. Men and women assume there is someone out there (Mr. / Miss perfect) who will fully understand them and love them and in a way that will completely take away their loneliness and emptiness. Since such utopian whims and wishes soon are shattered into pieces, when they discover that “the ideal” was after all not as ideal as they had envisaged or expected. If there were really such “ideals” out there, there would hardly be any divorces or separations. Sadly, the ideals are only found in works of fiction or in dreams. Marriages and relations fall apart because neither of the partners is able to enter into the dark, “hidden” and the unexplored territories (The Johari Window) of their spouse’s heart or soul which is not that “attractive” and “pleasing”.

The more I became acquainted with the disposition of my beloved

The more, I became lonelier and lonelier and lonelier

Minister: The Marginalized One

The role of the minister in people’s lives is becoming very limited as he is hardly invited to come over and listen to what’s going on in people’s lives. He is only “let in” when it is almost the end of the road for many.  Or, he is there to perform THE LAST rites because, he only is THE LAST ONE to be permitted in the whole affair.

The media reports the suicide of a man or a woman and they show the interviews of the neighbors and friends who, facing the cameras say, “He was always friendly and cheerful, etc. etc., “we could never imagine he / she could do such a thing, this comes as a huge shock to us.”

So, there we have it.

“Faces are but deceptive and things are not as them seem to be” Shakespeare

So, what went wrong? The neighbors and the community had only seen the smiling face, greeting everyone in the street, at a local store or at a community event. But, neither the “fallen one” nor the community had ever had a chance to look deeper and see the wounds that were always bandaged with a smile.

“how come you are always smiling, is there a pain that you are trying to conceal? ”

The writer paints the sorry portrait of the minister by saying that, the s/he “always, seems to arrive at the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong people, outside the walls of the city when the feast is over, with a few a crying women”

The writer narrates an event when the pilot of a ship, in a desperate situation bumps into a priest and, says, “God damn it, Father, get out of my way” But soon realizing his own incompetency and guilt comes back to seek the preiest’s “presence” in the rather rough and perilous situation. “This might be the only time I really need you”, says the frustrated and confused pilot to the priest he had shunned moments before.

The minister is, thus, not “a fair weather” friend but is indeed only “a friend in need”.

Nouwen says that people tend to overlook their hurt or ignore it or even pretend as if it were not there but when life pushes them to the edge, they realize that the wound was always very much there. And, how aptly, a philosopher puts it, “it always hurts more where the scar is”.

Loneliness is the wound of a minister in these days. This is the wound he has to bind very gently and carefully. Forming a community of faith in these days is a hard calling and the minister in his loneliness and neglect has to make use of this wound, first by accepting it as a bitter reality of the day and then by putting it into the service of healing others.

The Healing Minister

The writer now embarks on deciphering and interpreting the enigmatic concept of the “Wounded Healer” and elucidating the all too paradoxical philosophy of “making our wound the source of healing” for others.

Nouwen asserts that while “a doctor can still be a good doctor while his own private life is badly disturbed, no minister can offer service without a constant and vital knowledge of his own experiences.” But the writer here points out the fine and subtle difference between the two. No minister, he says, can stand behind the pulpit and rant about his own miserable condition or tell what he is going through. This, he says, by no means is going to be of any help either to him or to the congregation.  Making one’s own wounds a source of healing, says Nouwen, does not call for sharing of superficial personal pains but for a constant reminder and recognition of one’s own pain before seeing it in others. It is not in seeking a morbid and melancholic pleasure in pain or romanticizing suffering but feeling its depth and extensiveness only to understand it better.

The Buddhist Philosophy of “Dukha”

This brings to my mind the Buddhist concept of “dukha” or suffering, which the Buddhist philosophy teaches to embrace as an ultimate reality of life and from which there is no escape until the cycle of   reincarnation goes on. The salvation or mukti / moksha will only be achieved when the recognition of dukha will be established and then measure will be taken to counter it. Escape there is none, for as much as we will try to escape from it, the more will it pursue and haunt us. The liberation (mukti/Moksha) asserts Nouwen, is in “constant willingness to see one’s own pain and suffering as rising from the depth of human condition”. This resonates very much with some of the Biblical texts:

  1. Psalms 90:2 KJV “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

Ecclesiastes 2:23 KJV “For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night…”

  1. Job 5:8 KJV “For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.”

Healing and Hospitality

The writer goes on to explain how this healing can take place. He suggests that instead of focusing on the conventional Christian moral values such as compassion, care and forgiveness etc. there is a much needed virtue of hospitality that should be put in practice to embrace the wounded and lonely souls.

Hospitality and Concentration:

Nouwen says that hospitality is the ability to pay attention to the guest. The world is too busy and so are many ministers, too busy to concentrate on “self”. This goes for almost everyone today as we tend to look at people not as who they are and what they are saying but what can we get from them. Instead of trying to peep into their self we try to impose our self on them. Nouwen says that if we are not at home with our own self how could we make space or allow others to enter our home (self).  The writer further explains this by saying that it is the withdrawing of our self that is of vital importance to allow the other person to make way into our home (self) But if we are too full of our own self we cannot make space for others. Even in God’s act of the creation, according to the Jewish mystical doctrine, God had to withdraw to create. Thus, withdrawal of self-aids the other to come into being. In a more practical and wordly sense, when a guest or guest comes, the host in most cases, has to make some adjustments to squeeze and give up some of his own comfort and space in order to accommodate and make the guest feel comfortable and “at home”. This happens in mostly in eastern cultures where there is hardly a concept of a separate guest room for the visitors.  To me as someone from this culture, makes a clear and perfect sense.

Moreover, to me, this is one of the key or the most vital aspect of chaplaincy , as a chaplain must allow the patient to enter his “home” (self) as a guest and to feel at home speaking up his thoughts , sharing his innermost feelings or grievances in the comfort of the hospitality of the chaplain / minister.  (allowing the minister / chaplain do the midwifery) Withdrawing his own self (sorrow) and letting the guest (patient) pour it all out.

Nouwen says that when someone comes to a minister in his loneliness and suffering, he does not expect the minster to be a physician who will treat his condition but he comes with a hope that his pain and suffering will be understood and felt  (feel at home)  just as he is experiencing it. The writer also gives another scenario where he says that a woman who has suffered the loss of a healthy and beautiful child does not need to hear that she must have consolation in the fact that she still has two children with her but the minister here must face the challenge of helping her realize that in her child’s death she has to see the frailty of human life (stated above: Ecclesiastes 2;23, Job 5:18 and Psalms 91) and her own mortal condition. (also, the Buddhist philosophy of Dukha / suffering) The writer says that the minister must only try to prevent people from suffering when they suffer for the wrong reasons or with the false suppositions and illusions of immortality and wholeness. Ministry, the writer says, is a very confronting service which has to make people realize and recognize the mortal condition of human beings and this very recognition is the starting point of liberation. Once we are able to accept this bitter reality, acknowledge and share our brokenness and sorrow, only then are we are able to transform our suffering into hope and experience the spirit of Christian hospitality which creates a healing community. Thus, the shared sorrows produce a shared hope and shared weaknesses become a shared strength and this shared communion in turn creates recognition of God’s saving grace.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the writer goes back to the story that he started in the beginning of the chapter, where he talks about a Rabbi who asks Joshua when the Messiah would come. Elijah says that he could see the Messiah sitting among the poor at the city gate, binding his wounds one by one. The Rabbi goes to see the Messiah and asks when he would come. “Today” Said, The Messiah. The Rabbi goes back to Elijah and tells him that the Messiah has lied to him as he had said that he would come today but he has not.

Elijah says, “This is what he told you: ‘Today if you would listen to his voice’.”  (Psalm 95:7)

To me this is the same answer the Messiah (Jesus) gives in the New Testament:

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

“Behold, the kingdom of God is within you”. Luke 17: 20-21 KJV

The writer closes the discourse by saying that our loneliness and isolation makes us desperately look for a Messiah and a liberator who would take away our despair and miseries and usher a new era of peace and justice but we forget that our wounds are indeed the place where God will start his work of a new creation in us and that is where peace, justice and our healing will be initiated.

My Closing Annotations:

Elijah’s reply to the Rabbi that what the Messiah had said was indeed “Today if you would listen to his voice”, resonates enormously with my eastern philosophy that rises from mysticism proclaiming that if we are to find God, we have to seek Him within. That is what the prophet tells the Rabbi, the Messiah has already come; we just have to look within us and listen to His voice. God does not dwell in temples built with stones and rocks but in the human heart, the heart that is hurt. Because it is only there that he can make his healing presence felt.

Reviewed by: Dr Prudent Injeeli

Quaid-e-Azam's Vision - Christians in Pakistan: The Battle for Justice

(Five Decades of Struggle for the constitutional rights of the Pakistan Christian Minority)

Author: George Felix

Publishers: St Salford (UK), Agape Press,  2001

ISBN: 1 870645 04 9

Pages: 208

 

Quaid-e-Azam’s Vision by Mr. George Felix is one of the rare works on the issue of the persecuted church in Pakistan. Mr. Felix takes pains to chronologically state the events in order to present his case for the minorities in Pakistan.

The book is a catalogue of the events that have slowly but surely led to the very dismal condition of the minorities in Pakistan in general and that of the Christians in particular. Mr. Felix has very explicitly expounded the vision of the founder of Pakistan and has made a solid case against the elements that have played a vigorous but nefarious role in sabotaging the true vision of the Quaid.

Mr. Felix has organized the book in two parts, the first part highlights the historical struggle of the minorities since the division of India into two states - India and Pakistan.  He also reports the significant incidents of the Christian persecution in various parts of the country over the years. The writer makes a very fair analysis of the events that have lead the Christians into the darkness of uncertainty and hopelessness. The book, “Quaid-e-Azam’s Vision” also raises many constitutional issues that have plagued the Christian minority in many ways for years. The bar on the right to jobs of Christians in civil services and many other national spheres has psychologically damaged the Christian minority in a very harsh and severe way.

Mr. Felix also brings to light many dimensions of the notorious blasphemy law called 295 C that has taken many lives in a most cruel way leaving the Christian minority totally helpless, handicapped and defenseless before the public and the legal system of the country. In the second part of the book, Mr. Felix presents the documentary proofs of the statements, news clips and the legal proceedings pertaining to the struggles of the minorities in Pakistan. Unfortunately, there seems to be no silver lining in the horizon as far as the future of Christians in Pakistan is concerned, however, people like Mr. George Felix have been trying to make an earnest effort to raise the issue at an international level to bring the gravity and the urgency of the matter to the attention of the international community and the civilized world.

The book, “Quaid-e-Azam’s Vision – Christians in Pakistan: The Battle for Justice” is an earnest and praiseworthy attempt to keep alive the issue of the persecuted church in Pakistan and is a great read for those who seek an honest and accurate understanding of the events of persecution of Christens in Pakistan.

Mr. Felix has put his heart and soul into his work and the book reveals his strong passion for doing something significant in the service of his fellow believers in Pakistan.

Dr. Prudent Injeeli

 

Future of Christians in Pakistan

Author:  Joshua Fazl-ud-Din

Publishing information: See the note at the end of this Book Review

Date: c. 1948/49

Pages: 140

 

“Future of Christians in Pakistan” is a great read for anyone who would like to understand the evolutionary cycle of the events that have led to the present dismal state of affairs in Pakistan particularly with regards to the minorities. Well said a poet, “there is a long time involved in the making of a tragedy, it doesn’t just happen accidently”. This is exactly how things have slowly but surefootedly cropped up the present circumstances for the minorities in Pakistan.

What has amazed me the most about the “Future of Christians in Pakistan” is the writer’s “almost” prophetic faculty to foresee the shape of things to come. Mr. Joshua Fazl-ud-Din displays a profound insight into the early events of the history of Pakistan that have now “blossomed” in full bloom to create the environment that the writer had feared as the “would be” plight of this country. What amazes me even more is that all the fears and apprehensions that the Mr. Joshua penned down in his book have not only materialized in their full manifestation but there are things that even he in his wildest imagination could not have pictured but they are now happening. Nevertheless, even if he did see them coming, he couldn’t have convinced himself that one day they could actually happen so he dissuaded himself from writing them down.

Mr. Joshua, for example, makes no mention of the possibility of the introduction of the blasphemy law which would clog any academic discussion of religion even on purely scholarly grounds. But we see that the blasphemy law is now here in all its “glare and glory” claiming scores of innocent lives mainly from the minority factions.

Throughout his book, Mr. Joshua reiterates the need of maintaining a strong Christian faith in the face of trials and troubles the Christian Minority was facing then, but he must be “rolling in his grave” to see what he was left shy of saying about the cold and cruel treatment being meted to the Christians in Pakistan now.

Mr. Joshua also mentions the sacrifices that were expected of the Christians to make and they indeed did make those sacrifices in order to make way for the Muslim migrants coming from Hindustan (India) The Christians were obliged to evacuate their houses and disclaim their lands with the standing crops to the immigrant Muslims.

The author does not fail to give the due credit to the Christian Missions and missionaries who left no stone unturned to help the displaced Christians in order to alleviate their woes and miseries. However, he laments the role of the British Imperialists who, despite sharing the same faith, deliberately remained biased towards Christianity and favored all the other religions and their followers. One cannot but fully agree with the writer that had the British taken a favorable approach towards Christianity or even had remained neutral, the social and religious landscape of the sub-continent would have been much different from what we see today.

I cannot admire enough the great insight and farsightedness that the author demonstrates in the 140 odd pages he has written on the Future of Christians in Pakistan, the future that we are living now. One cannot but speculate what more lies in the days, months and years to come that the author has only hinted at as a wave of severe and harsh persecution of the Christians has already been unleased in the pretext of establishing an ideal Islamic State founded on the Two Nation Theory and further groomed on the lines of the Objectives Resolution.

Lastly, as a keen reader of “Future of Christians in Pakistan” I strongly recommend the book to everyone who is bewildered at what is going on with the Christian minority in Pakistan as he/she will discover that all that we see now was not unexpected by the author who, over six decades before, as a keen observers of the events elaborately painted the picture of the Pakistan of today.

Book Review by Dr. Prudent Injeeli

 

Future of Christians in Pakistan  by Joshua Fazal-ud-Din was first published in c.1948/1949. As far as our we could try, our team has not been able to locate a single printed copy of this precious little book. However, we were able to find a PDF of this work on the internet. Considering the number of typographical and grammatical mistakes the manuscript contained, it wass of a very poor quality, nevertheless, it did appear to be the complete text(140 pages). It is to Dr. Prudent Injeeli's credit that he not only discovered the PDF but has painstakingly revised it and updated it to a very high quality manuscript. In the process he has offered this Book Review to be published on CUWAP.ORG website. 

If anybody has a copy of Future of Christians in Pakistan, please contact CUWAP.ORG to share the original publishing information. We would love to hear from you, and will be happy to acknowledge your help in appropriate place on this website.

 

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