Dear Self-Righteous Uncle (Or Aunty)
My name is Noushin. I am a twenty-something, independent Muslimah living in Pakistan. I love to go to work every morning and (god forbid) use my brain in order to make even more money than I already have, working in a male-dominated industry. I like to read and bake brownies whenever I get the time from my horribly busy schedule. I especially enjoy waking up sometime in the middle of the night and praying to God for peace, success – and ever lasting happiness with the one I love.
Yes, that’s right: this Muslim girl is in love.
Haram, you say? Well, don’t take a breather just yet because I’ve decided to tell you something about him. I’m feeling all emotional, you see – especially since people like you believe people like him deserve to die. Apparently for no other reason than his being Shia.
Yes. He’s Shia. He is also a direct descendant of Hazrat Ali, and thus a very passionate devotee of the faith. And since I myself am a direct descendant of Hazrat Hasan I can’t help but agree that this might just be a match made in Heaven (literally).
Being on the “other side of the bridge” as people love to tell me, I have come across many ‘friends’ who’ve tried to warn me of the inevitable consequences of my actions. I can just imagine your eyes widening with horror as you read this letter… well, don’t stop now; because I have only just begun.
He belongs to the “Twelver” or Imami Shia Islam – which means he believes in twelve divinely appointed Imams (including Hazrat Mehdi). Oh wait. We believe in Hazrat Mehdi too, don’t we? For a minute there, with all your righteous screaming, I had quite forgotten that bit.
Yes, he only has one Kalma – the basic one which we use to revert others back to Islam. How many of you even remember the other five, if I may be so bold to ask? I’d be surprised by a show of hands, if any of you even decided to risk embarrassing yourselves in front of others. Do you even know what they mean? – or do you like to parrot whatever your Maulvi Saab taught you when you were in the first grade and feel proud about knowing even that much?
Did you know that he participates in the Maatam every year – just like Shias all over the world. And yes, it is terribly scary for me, because I can’t bear to think of him being in any kind of pain – but I respect it. And I don’t go about brandishing slogans asking for blood unlike some of you.
Since you have obviously come straight from Heaven, with an Angel by your side and the Holy Book branded into your heart, let me assure you that if loving a Shia makes me “wajib-ul-qatal” – I am very happy to go down that road. And I would gladly do it all over again.
“There are so many other men in the world – why a Shia?”
I’ve been asked this question so many times, I could simply scream. The world might be divided into two major sects for you, but for people – women – like me, who actually have a brain, it is a much much bigger place.
He might be a host of things that you do not approve of – and, quite frankly, I don’t care about – but one thing he is that you will never be is a great human being. He is warm, kind and loving; with a compassionate nature and a quick understanding. His eyes reflect the man beneath, who is quick to empathize with another no matter his station in life. His laugh is carefree and comes from deep within his chest, and I especially love to watch that quick smile that flits across his face with the adorable dimples that appear on either side of it.
He believes in my dreams – perhaps more strongly than I do. He supports me and guides me when I need guidance. He prefers to laugh at himself rather than at others and is quick to use humor to deflate any issue that might be turning a bit heated.
He is one of the bravest people I know and a firm believer in giving each his due. He also hates seeing another feel the brunt of injustice – even if that other is a Sunni brother.
Unbelievable, isn’t it? A Shia who is also a human – and a wonderful human being at that.
Did you know that I also recently attended the funeral / namaaz-e-janaza of a mentor of mine – who, by the way, also happened to be Shia? Yes, he was a Munafiq – exactly the sort of person you lot love to stay away from.
He was also the most inspiring man I have ever met; a true leader. One of the best journalists this world has probably ever seen, his sharp wit and lover-like take on life and its trials never failed to impress upon those around him the value of the man himself. Even though it has been nearly a week since he passed away, I still find it hard to write about him. Possibly because for me, he and his work will never die.
The Editor of the biggest newspaper website in Pakistan, he affected everybody he came in contact with. Musadiq was special, a unique mixture of the curious and the wise. He was a journalist, an artist and a musician – a combination as rare as the man himself. And he was fearless; never once in all the time that I knew him did he ever complain about the cancer that was slowly but surely eating away at him.
He would talk about it as though it were happening to someone else, joke about his inability to have chocolate, his favorite form of dessert, – and then steal a few away saying “the doctor won’t know, will he?”
He was always ready for a laugh, and his soft voice held more authority than your righteous anger ever will.
Hold on. I’m a Muslim too – I know I said that earlier but I feel the need to impress that little fact upon you again. The ethos of my faith, however, advises me to let others live in peace. I cannot judge another unless I am perfect – and nobody is perfect except Allah, right?
I may not be the best Muslimah in the world, but I definitely strive to do my best to be a great human being. You should try that sometime; it’s really not that hard. It just requires an open mind and an acceptance of others as they are – away from your itty bitty comfort zone.
Try it sometime.
Until then, don’t bother telling me what to do with my life and who a real Muslim is – unless you genuinely want to be fighting to save yours.
Now, if you don’t mind, I have plans to make. I am hanging out with a close Shia friend for lunch and then will probably go out for dinner with my Shia lover. My friends are so Shia it’s amazing. Sometimes, we discuss religion, sometimes we discuss life and everything else which we deem important.
But you know what we don’t discuss? Bigots like you who love to get more attention than they deserve.
Don’t ever come up to me and tell me who is right and who is wrong, because what will happen next might not be what you expected.
Sincerely sitting happily hand-in-hand with a Shia,