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 â€” though they are quite capable of throwing this or that “Sunni” faction out in a heart beat. They are always urban â€” 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.
it's an interesting analogy....although faisal's(on the tribune website) comment also seems to raise some pertinent questions...
"There is the majority, the people who live in this house. " ummm.. ok "They are always Sunni Muslim â€” though they are quite capable of throwing this or that “Sunni” faction out in a heart beat." always? and once they've thrown 'this or that sunni faction' out, the "sunni majority" you speak of is then inside or outside the house? "They are always urban â€” the rural, the semi-urban lives remain out of the pale." really? always? and the rural and semi urban people who would call themselves 'sunni' are outside what pale? "They are always concerned with their upward mobility." wow! only them? "They want security, prosperity, the latest electronic gadget and the fastest car. For themselves." really? all sunnis are defined by their desire for these things exclusively? or just those who do the chucking out and live in urban areas? and of course the other species you mention are defined only by their oppression? of course none of them would ever stoop so low as to perhaps want "security, prosperity" for themselves? And by themselves, do you mean specifically themselves, or for the religious grouping you've clumped them into? "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." really? so the majority are in fact wealthy, owners of capital, urbanites? the majority hires the rest for housework? and out of all people selling produce on carts, none are sunni? and those who would chuck out other sunnis from the house somehow also "embrace the diversity of fabric, the exoticness of sufi poetry..."??? What the hell are you talking about in this piece?!?!? "This is not history. This is precedent." Ya! And this is not analysis. This is gibberish.
A very moving piece by Mohammed Hanif http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8744092.stm
@ Khurram Husain I believe this is what is referred to as "Art". It obviously isn't an analysis
You are right Manan. Our silence against the atrocities has encouraged mullahs to denounce and kill Ahmedis. There is nobody to blame but us. I am glad that a lot of people are writing about the cruelty against Ahmedis now, but these lines from Mohammad Hanif's article make me shiver: "Then an Ahmadi friend whose father survived the Lahore massacre wrote to me saying: "You know we have been living like this for decades. [Did] something like this have to happen for you to speak up?"
@TLW: it makes me want to cry sometimes to see all the hocus that gets to pass itself off as "Art" these days....
It is neither analysis nor art. It was meant to be an elegy. Thanks for reading.
This is wonderful. This is heartfelt. It moves me to tears. Only somebody totally callous would not be moved by it. I, too mourn for what we have lost.
Hate Speech Dawn Editorial - 21/06/10 A strong case can be made against the JI leader for fomenting aggression and religious persecution under the country's laws regarding hate speech and incitement to violence. - Photo on file The street power and political clout wielded by Pakistan's religious right have resulted in the state and society being held hostage by extremist elements. The latter stop at nothing to further their agenda of inciting hatred, divisiveness and violence. The latest example is that of the Jamaat-i-Islami chief, Syed Munawwar Hasan, who during a sermon in Lahore on Friday threatened a fresh movement against the Ahmadi community if it “did not accept their minority status” and the government kept silent about “their blasphemous and unconstitutional activities”. Mr Hasan did not specify any particular instance substantiating his charges, leading one to read his comments as hate speech and also as an attempt to blackmail the government into further victimising an already persecuted community. Given the incendiary passions the issue arouses, any call by religious parties in this context is certain to be attended by violence. A strong case can be made against the JI leader for fomenting aggression and religious persecution under the country's laws regarding hate speech and incitement to violence. Even beyond this particular case, it has now become a matter of urgency that the government show an active and uncompromising stance on the issue of hate speech and incitement to violence or other sorts of criminal activity. Pakistan's polity is already rent by religious, ethnic and sectarian divisions. Allowing irresponsible and divisive opinions to be aired publicly will deepen these fissures. Once it begins, the process of religious, ethnic and other communities being pitted against one another will prove difficult to bring under control. Spiralling violence, particularly in view of other issues being faced by the country such as militancy and terrorism, can then be expected. It is in the interests of both the state and citizenry to take a stand against inflammatory hate speech and lobby for the prosecution of those who break the law.
One has to wonder whether the writer (a proclaimed 'historian') has actually studied world history. If one were to study social interactions through the ages in just about every nation that has arisen, one would come across something known as a bourgoisie vs proletarian conflict-dynamic. Heard of it? Probably not. I just made up the term. Far be it from wonderful Pakistan to succumb to this experience. Especially for a nation state that is only one of two to be ever founded on the basis of religion. And now, intra-religion conflict? Really? Seriously? Wow. Who would have thunk it?!