My piece, House on the Hill, June 13, 2010 in The Express Tribune about the illusion of safety which envelops the Sunni upper-middle-class.
There is the majority, the people who live in this house. They are always Sunni Muslim — though they are quite capable of throwing this or that “Sunni” faction out in a heart beat. They are always urban — the rural, the semi-urban lives remain out of the pale. They are always concerned with their upward mobility. They want security, prosperity, the latest electronic gadget and the fastest car. For themselves. They are never poor, never working class, never provincial but they are its consumers: they hire the poor for their housework, they buy from their carts, they embrace the diversity of fabric, the exoticness of “Sufi poetry”, the colourful beads and the regional sweets.
The majority is not so secure, however. Some say Allah Hafiz and some Khuda Hafiz. Some are known to say Ameen aloud in prayer and some under their breath. Some hang amulets around their necks and some don’t. Some shave their beards, others grow mustaches. Some are known to skip Qur’an studies for IT. Some practice birth control. Some take only one wife. Some actually believe in that Sufi business. Some put God in a cabinet. Some are vegetarian.
Once the Ahmadis, the Shi’as, the Hindus, the Christians were also part of the upstairs. They were also members of the house. The poor were once the founders. Slowly, they were moved down; eliminated. This is not history. This is precedent.