My Christian house help: Pakistan never wants its minorities to succeed

Published: September 2, 2013

Masih, at 28, remains where he started out, a full time cleaner. In the charming words of our brethren, Masih, is a ‘choora’, a dreadful term.

Pakistan’s fertility rate is likely to drop if women marry at an older age: that argument stands on its own considerable merit, because a young woman is likely to conceive more easily and often at this most fertile time of her life, but other factors also contribute to the high fertility rate.

In Pakistan, children are not just a source of joy, but necessary pillars that support parents in the parents’ old age. This is true of all cultures, but it acquires an imperative urgency in societies like ours.

Insaan Masih is a young man of no education but an innate sense of what should be. He has taught himself to read and write to a rudimentary level. His wife, given child bearing and rearing, housework and a job, remains illiterate. They have two children in school. Both parents have made their children’s education their priority in a way that I have rarely witnessed amongst more educated persons, where I have also rarely witnessed Masih’s attention to hygiene and other things, such as punctuality. He rarely takes a day off, always working an alternate day if he cannot make it once.

In spite of these qualities, Masih, at 28, remains where he started out, a full time cleaner. In the charming words of our brethren, Masih, is a choora, a dreadful term.

I began to realise the extent of the problem only when Masih started to work for us and it seemed to me that our then cook had something against him. I could find little wrong with our new employee, unless you call his horror of working in a room containing strangers a problem. He is ashamed of the job he does, and I have learnt never to ask him to ‘quickly dust that corner’ if an outsider is present in the room.

Finally, the cook came out with it. He wanted me to get separate dishes for Masih.

We never, on principle, separate our utensils from our employees, but the problem of course was that Masih is a Masih (a Christian). I refused, and our cook separated his plates from ours.

Several non Muslims have visited our home, but never has our cook objected to sharing the crockery with them. They, of course, are white, so Masih’s was a case of caste racism with which Pakistan is riddled and cursed, nothing to do with religion which condemns such prejudice. Masih possesses a name that identifies him with a minority community. He also possesses dark skin, which to the average racist Pakistani acts the way a red flag apparently does to a bull.

I took Masih for his driving test today upon his request. He is so used to being discriminated against because of his poverty and religion that he wanted me there simply as a shield, which I tried to be. I helped him put together the documents required (the licensing process will be the subject of another blog), and so was able to share, to some miniscule extent, what the Masihs of this country go through every day of their lives. It made me cringe.

‘What is your name?’ the man at the desk barked at the young man at my side.

‘Insaan *masih*,’ the latter in a very small voice.

‘Masih? A Christian?’ the voice dripped with contempt.

‘Yes sir.’

The man at the desk turned to another man at his side, in police uniform. ‘He is a Masih. Where should he go?’

Not even the man in uniform knew how to respond to this question, which is probably why Masih was waved along to stand in line with everyone else. We encountered similar incidents several times.

I left when his documents were made, and later, Masih did not get his license; they failed him for a (very) minor question. He must retake his test.

Masih requires several half days for this process and money for transport, both of which are hard to come by for him. He is trying to better his position, which is possible if God wills it, but never if our countrymen have their way.

Masih’s job does not provide a pension, and one day when he and his wife are old, there will be no savings, given their salaries; the mere idea is ridiculous.

Who will look after them if not their children?  That the State might is an even more laughable expectation, therefore, the more children the better. I would be the same in that position.

This applies to almost all the people in this country, all disadvantaged one way or another, most of all by being subjects of a State which has failed to provide for its people any way you look at it.


Rabia Ahmed

The author is a freelance writer and translator.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Nicely said especially the very end bit.
    Somewhere in the middle you say that this discrimination has nothing to do with religion. Now while writing that I am sure that you realised that, that was a ‘ loaded ‘ sttement.
    In the context of Pakistan, and you are talking of Pakistan, the blatant misuse of religion to satiate political and power related ends can not be brushed aside …… has everything to do with religion.Recommend

  • MYKF

    Dear you mentioned a very disturbing and painful issue, but this problem is not the issue of Pakistan alone but all around the world. Recommend

  • Heart break

    What’s the point of this article..theres no solution to this..Pakistan is a country where a non muslim can’t become prime minister or president.The constitution itself isn’t equally fair to all its citizens…Maybe with the formation of Pak in 1947,all non muslims and non sunnis should’ve been asked to leave the country…they can still be deported.Put them on boats to Australia or something.
    Asia bibi is in prison for drinking water from a muslims well..thanks to blasphemy laws that Salman Taseer opposed and lost his life for…and Qadri was garlanded..
    God have mercy on these poor,poor christian people.Recommend

  • nqm0230

    It is kinda ironic in itself that there is no comment on this post. I agree with the author. The people of Pakistan especially those who belong to a majority have a weird superiority complex to them. They scorn at minorities and consider them less than humans. In the prevalent situation, it is very very hard for an unfortunate minority member to rise above his/her ranks. Recommend

  • Rabia

    @Parvez: definitely religion is misused in Pakistan. That is the ultimate tragedy. But you have to admit, that the end result is so unlike true Islam which it masquerades as, that I prefer to say that it has nothing to do with religion, because the religion I am speaking of is Islam.Recommend

  • AamAwam

    This is insane. I can understand that your cook is an illiterate hence the biased behaviour but is wrong with this country’s so called ‘Parha Likha tabqa’?
    This is ridiculous.
    Please Rabia, make a complain about such officers. Since you’ve highlighted it would be great if you can actually report it so a further notice can be taken in this regard.
    I cant help but feel bad that a man who is so hard working is being denied of his basic right to flourish.Recommend

  • haider ali

    this is a point to ponder. very well writtenRecommend

  • Ammar

    This is indeed disturbing and something of an everyday phenomenon we choose to ignore. The problem, however, is not just limited to religion. It is more of a thought process rooted in the minds of society itself from norms followed throughout ancient India and further down British India, where dividing people into different castes or classes was common practice.
    Ask a typical Pakistani their thoughts on equality and you’ll usually hear about how religion emphasizes on equality for everyone. However, the sad truth is this superiority complex has evolved so far it is now an ideology that has been indoctrinated into the web of society itself that it is increasingly difficult to overcome with the growing amounts of intolerance in the country.Recommend

  • Hafsa Siddique

    Funny…what I know is that in most O’level, private, westernized schools in Pakistan Muslims are unfairly treated…all top positions are given to non-Muslims just because it sounds so fair and because they prefer western culture and happily adapt to stuff like halloween, pool parties and valentine celebrations and appear so kool & trendy…Pakistan is a country where non-Muslims have all the rights that Muslims have…name any section of Pakistan that is enjoying all the rights…yes, there is one and its name is ELITE…the rest whether Muslims or non-Muslims all are suffering because of illiteracy, poverty and injustice…even my Muslim maid is not being given her ID card or any other paper work (not because she is a Muslim or a Christian or a Hindu but simply because she is a poor person and the system is corrupt)…and as for Pakistani Muslims, they are even being blackmailed by the media…50,000 Pakistanis have died in War on Terror in a decade but there is a hype created if any non-Muslim/Hazara/Shia/Christian/Hindu dies…what about rest of the 50,000 Muslims killed…? Why isn’t there no voice in the media for Muslim blood??? Yet i am happy the common man always sympathizes for the loss of our fellow Pakistanis regardless of their religion or cast…Media should stop cornering & insulting the Muslims of Pakistan because it seems as if Media is attempting to create a divide in the society…! As for Muslims…no need to be apologetic…this is a country made for you to freely practice your religion…no one has the right to snatch this right from you…treat your poor kindly and be brave when there is injustice against you also…!Recommend

  • Indian Catholic

    Thank you for writing about the Christian community in Pakistan. From what I have gathered from articles such as yours is that most Pakistani Christians seem to have a last name of “Masih” (perhaps meaning messiah, a strange word considering that it seems to be unused by Christians worldwide) and that they seem to work in the worst kind of jobs, as sanitary workers and garbage pickers.
    How did this happen? From what I can make out, some of the most prestigious schools and universities in Pakistan have Christian names. Recently we had one blog on ET about Aitchison and also one of the most respected authors on ET is a historian at Forman College. I assume these and other Christian-sounding colleges are still being run by the Catholic or Protestant church. The various Christian denominations do not differentiate among each other when it comes to education. They also give leeway to Christians especially for first generation students. So I just don’t get it, how can this happen?
    This situation is a far cry from India where Christians score high on most parameters and are typically well educated. Aakar Patel provides a summary in his recent Sunday column. In India, Christians schools and colleges usually have very few Christians as our population is small and the schools are many. We face no discrimination whatsoever, and definitely not for getting a license or one of those mundane things. I wouldn’t say that we are respected or anything just because we are Christian. But no one puts us down either. In fact, no one puts anyone down simply on the basis of religion.
    Would appreciate a follow up article or post from the author. Thanks again!Recommend

  • Sane

    Discrimination is not due to religion but due to poverty. All those who are poor are treated same way whether Christian, Hindu, Sikhs or Muslims. You are exaggerating and making this a religious point.Recommend

  • jhengo

    @haider ali.

    ponder less, and more to put a stop to this madness.


    two wrongs dont make a right, my friend Recommend

  • Pappu

    How muslims make fuss when a woman is discouraged to wear veil in a non muslim country but they dont see their disgusting behavior towards minorities in muslim countries. When a white throw a slang towards colored pakistanis they consider it offensive and racist but they do not realize their own hatred towards dark skin non muslims.Recommend

  • Sobha

    The only reason these people aren’t allowed to better their position is that no one will clean our streets or wash our bathrooms if these people are capable of getting good jobs. Society is putting them down not just because they are Christian but because they need someone of lower stature to do their dirty work for them. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Rabia: so unlike true Islam

    What is true Islam? In what part of this world, Muslims who follow “true Islam” live?
    Is Islam still a way of life?

    Are Pakistani Muslims following true Islam by terrorizing Ahmadis, Christians and Shias? I have read in News many religious leaders in Pakistan tell Sunnis to kill Ahmadis and Shias to assure their entry into Islamic heaven.Recommend

  • Majid

    Idiotic post! First learn driving before expecting a driving license!Recommend

  • Anon

    @ Ammar

    Yes,all pakistani ills today have their origins in India…

    @ Hafsa Siddique

    Not so madam…if it was all equal,as you potray,then where did the blasphemy laws come from and why did Salman Tasser die ?Recommend

  • Amina

    I think the most amazing thing about Pakistan used to be that someone who chose to make their life better could work hard and change things. My own family is an example of this. However, these days I think it’s not possibly anymore and that’s the real downfall of Pakistan.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    The simple fact much overlooked is that the minorities were never ever informed that Pakistan would be a Theocratic State where only Muslims would be allowed to occupy top posts, of course reservations would be provided in Conservancy department, as proudly claimed by the new CM of KPK. If facts had been made clear before the country became independent, they would have made a rush for the border.
    It is too late to talk about Hindus, Christians and Sikhs now, after they have been neutered with State help. The Ahmadi received their just pudding in 1974 for the stand they took pre 1947, intolerant then and wanting tolerance now. Sooner or later the Shia will also be called to account if they do not join the chorus of the minorities now for repeal of the Blasphemy Law and rewriting of the Constitution. What must be always remembered is that there is no limit to intolerance, fanatism or extremism.Recommend

  • Nb

    @ Jhengo

    How can this ‘madness’ be stopped..
    That won’t happen till the constitution is changed- and that will never happen- so,no solution….

  • http://Google Nasser

    I am a Muslim Pakistani – and they say I am fair complexioned, which is unimportant. THIS breaks my heart! We are better than this.Recommend

  • hassan

    You are just trying to portray a different scene.this all scenario exist in pakistani society with poors not on religious basis…..a poor will be treated same way in any govt. office rather he is muslim,christian,hindu,or sikh….Recommend

  • http://Google Nasser

    HE should be handed the ‘gharu’ for a couple of days; failing which, shown the door. Get out!Recommend

  • Zeeshan Ali

    Its been 02 years that I’ve been in UK. I swear upon ALLAH almighty that the Islamic values and teachings that I have adopted here, were far far away from my life in Pakistan. I did my FSc from Cadet College Hassan Abdal and then joined Army before i resigned couple of years ago. From a very small village of Bhakkar to my last job in Telenor, I have never come across any Christian class fellow/colleague. To be honest, I never really cared because I was brought up like that. I was always taught by my elders that Christians/Essai are low class and Chooray. I shouldn’t play with them or befriend them. And if somehow one of the Christians got into an argument with a Muslim, he would be physically and emotionally abused by rest f the majority Muslim community.

    Keeping in mind that Muslims form the minority ethnic group here, I came to UK. But I was taken a back by the equal treatment of each individual here in UK no matter what sect they belonged to. When I started thinking about, I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself and all those Pakistanis who call themselves “Muslims” but cant keep up to the very basic Islamic teaching of treating everyone equally and fairly. It really breaks my heart that we treat our christian and Hindu and all other non-Muslim Pakistanis so unfairly that all of them live in constant fear. Fear of being abused, fear of being discriminated against, fear of no job opportunities and having no Future/Career at all. I cant imagine how these communities are living in our country. It is responsibility of each and every one of us that we help and guide our non-Muslim brothers and sisters in every walk of life.

    Always remember “Haqooq ul Ibad are more important to Allah than Haqooq ul Allah”Recommend

  • Noor

    @ Zeeshan Ali

    Very nice. Good to know.Recommend

  • Arooj Ahmed

    Well, I believe this discrimination is not always on religious grounds, rather people don’t want to alter the values and beliefs they have been brought up with. So they live by those values that were set centuries back.

    But I disagree at one point, i.e, Christians and other minority communities in Pakistan DO HAVE access to good education and they, actually, are living a GOOD STANDARD life. And it does feel good to see them making good progress in all fields of life. What makes access to good life is often the education factor (both for the Non-Muslims and Muslims here).Recommend

  • Singh

    @Zeeshan Ali: You are not alone to experience this. I am in United State, here people from Pakistan try their best to be more friendly on face. They don’t have any objection eating with Hindu or Sikh from same platter. Recommend

  • shaheen

    What bothers me is that Pakistanis going abroad witness and appreciate efforts by foreign governments to embrace diversity in culture and religion.I often wonder about its lack in muslim countries. I find it ironic since equality of man is one of the basic tenets of Islam? Wasn’t that one of the reasons why people of other faiths converted to Islam. If Islam means ‘striving after righteousness’ wake up everybody and take action! Recommend

  • Zeeshan Ali

    @Arooj Ahmed:
    I only mentioned my college name as it is regarded as one of the most prestigious institution of Pakistan. I have had the honour of attending elite schools and college and eventually joined Army but never came across even a single non-Muslim student. Few dared joining while I was in Primary school but due to regular and constant abuse and bullying, soon left. My elders are responsible for letting this menace prevail in the society and their elders were responsible were for theirs. We’ve got the basics wrong. We have always given in to the social and cultural traditions instead of Basic Islamic values. InshaALLAH that will change with better education and awareness. Recommend

  • I have white skin… .

    and members of my race are the majority constituents of the Taliban. Does this mean that the Taliban are in fact an elitist organization deliberately maligned by the media but critical to the smooth functioning of the world? Please let me know so I can fulfill the purpose of my existence.Recommend

  • AverageMoe

    @Zeeshan Ali:
    Your personal experience doesn’t speak for all Pakistanis, maybe for the rural people but certainly not for urbane and educated pakistanis.

    Karachi is far more progressive than any city in Pakistan.Recommend

  • AverageMoe

    “We never, on principle, separate our utensils from our employees, but the problem of course was that Masih is a Masih (a Christian). I refused, and our cook separated his plates from ours.
    Several non Muslims have visited our home, but never has our cook objected to sharing the crockery with them. They, of course, are white, so Masih’s was a case of caste racism with which Pakistan is riddled and cursed, nothing to do with religion which condemns such prejudice. Masih possesses a name that identifies him with a minority community. He also possesses dark skin, which to the average racist Pakistani acts the way a red flag apparently does to a bull.”

    The reason why his boss didn’t share his crockery with him wasn’t because he was a Christian or because he was dark, it was because he was a servant, I’m ashamed to confess but at our house we don’t share our crockery with our servants too, even though most of them are Muslims, it’s simply for sanitary reasons.I guess when he saw that he assumed it had some thing to do with his faith or complexion but that isn’t the caseRecommend

  • Kiesha

    Can muslims here preaching equality for non muslims enlighten why a muslim woman cannot marry a non muslim man??Recommend

  • Johnny James

    @Zeeshan Ali

    I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself and all those Pakistanis who call themselves “Muslims” but cant keep up to the very basic Islamic teaching of treating everyone equally and fairly

    Was imposing tax (jizya) is an equal treatment with non-Muslims.

    What about Islam teaching about not to take “Jews and Christians as friends.”

    How about Muslim men are allowed to marry Christian or Jewish women, but Muslim women are not allowed to marry any Christians or Jews.

    Dude, I would have agreed with your aforementioned statement if something like this had only been happening in Pakistan, but the fact is it is happening all around the Islamic countries from Egypt to Nigeria and from Pakistan to Indonesia…….Could you please tell me from where these people are taking their inspiration to be so intolerant towards other religious minorities, especially Christians and Jews other than their religious sources….?Recommend

  • Patriot

    and never did it occurred to the author that maybe discrimination was due to help being illiterate and poor, and not due to religion. We are leaps and bounds above everyone else in religious freedom. Look around you everybody from India to China have State Sponsored minority suppression regimes.

    Fortunately ET and its self loathing authors are a tiny minority typically found on internet.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Rabia: I and I am sure that every discerning reader understands what you really meant but in the context of what we see happening in Pakistan even claiming a universal truth somehow looses its shine.

  • David Salmon

    @Indian Catholic:
    Indian Christians face “no discrimination whatsoever”?? Tell it to your Dalit brethren.Recommend

  • optimist

    Discrimination by individuals is due to the nature of job of Christians in Pakistan. Those who clean etc are also discriminated against in India. My Indian Hindu friend told me that when his mother lends money to the cleaner (Hindu Dalit), she washes it and irons it when she gets that back.
    Pakistanis have no problem sharing their food etc with white collar christians. It is more to do with the profession which is thought bad by Pakistanis. In England, we don’t even see Pakistani cleaners. They would rather be security guards/taxi driver as they feel ashamed to do cleaning. Recommend

  • Linchpin

    @Indian Catholic:
    Dear Indian Catholic. I think you need to understand the history of Christians in Pakistan as part of the wider issue of Christianity in the subcontinent. The Pakistani Christian community is not one community. Some of the Christian communities are e.g. Catholics from Goa. They never take jobs as sweepers or any other manual job. Most are white collar or run their own business. Another group comprised of Anglo-Indians most of these are also professional or in Government servants. Then there are a group of Christians from the North of Pakistan who are mostly jut or other nationalities and reflect the same jobs as others from other communities – many take on leadership roles or are in the church hierarchy or are professional. A large group especially in Punjab are the group who take the name of Masih. Many of these were so called untouchables practicing hinduism until 2 or 3 generations ago. They have the same problems as schedules in teh subcontinent. Their predicament is indeed ambysmal not because they are Christian but because of their caste affiliation. This is no excuse to keep them oppressed but the question is not one of religious prejuidice but clearly part of the disgusting practice of caste discrimination.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @shaheen: Wasn’t that one of the reasons why people of other faiths converted to Islam.

    Arabs still treat Pakistani Muslims like slave class because they know true history of how forefathers of Pakistanis converted to Islam. Do you know Arabs don’t let Pakistani men marry arab women?


  • ModiFied

    After reading the article and all the comments very carefully. I realized that no one seems to understand the real issue. To understand the plight of a Pakistani Mashie, one has look into Hindu caste system. Changing religion did not help all these people. Their place in social hierarchy remained same. Chohras are at the bottom of social hierarchy in Hindu caste system. They were called “Bhangis” also in north India. However, strict legislations were passed in India and calling someone “Chohra” or ” Bhangi” was made a criminal offence. The caste has been renamed “Balmiki” after the name of great sage who wrote Ramayana and who was born in this very caste. In ancient India caste was decided by vocation and could be changed if one changed his vocation. However, with the passage of time this was denied. Though Christianity and Islam forbid caste system, yet Charistians and Muslims in subcontinent still practice caste system. Those who were lower down on social ladder in Hinduism, remain low even after conversion to Islam or Christianity. Social attitude has not changed. Strict legislation has been quite helpful in India to uplift these people. There are reservations in government jobs and even political seats are reserved for them. In fact Indian politics is now dominated by these people. many Chief ministers come from so called lower castes. I don’t know how many Pakistani knows about Modi’s caste ? he comes from “telli” caste which is considered quite backward. I am sure most Pakistanis will know where a Muslim “telli” stands in social hierarchy. Recommend

  • jagjit sidhoo

    @Indian Catholic: I am practicing Sikh who has had all my schooling in convent schools and i hold the Christian community in great respect because of what it has done for education in India the best part is none of my teachers tried to convert me . The Christian community also runs some excellent hospitals i have first hand experience as i was once admitted to Christian Medical College in Ludhiana . Recommend

  • Baig

    @ Zeeshan Ali

    The basic Islamic values you refer to-what treatment is reserved for apostates,so that a muslim can attain heaven,can you tell me ?Recommend

  • Sane

    @Johnny James:

    Islam is what it is in beliefs. You like or dislike the teachings are not going to change anyways. You are also not supposed to be convinced. You are also allowed to vomit whatever hatred you have with Muslims and Islam. No difference this shall make.Recommend

  • Kiesha

    @Sane: Than you and others should also not preach equality for other faiths if it is not recommended in your belief.Recommend

  • Valerie Kaul

    Solution for now: help your servants to get their children into good schools and pay for them if necessary/ expect to pay a pension to them if they are with you for most of their lives – the State and the majority of people’s views/behaviour is not going to change in our life time so do the best you can as an individual and live life according to the tenants of your religion if you have one…Recommend

  • Somebody

    As a minority I have faced a situation many a times: “Aap bohat achay ho, aap Musalman kiyun naheen ho jatay”. Such thinking only comes from illiteracy. The society is to take the blame for this because I know that all religions always teach good things. Recommend

  • Somebody

    Also, in this case poverty seems to be the biggest sin of Mr. MasihRecommend

  • Zeeshan Ali

    @Johnny James: Your first Qs: Why did Muslims impose Jizyah/Tax on non-Muslims?
    whenever Muslims fought and conquered an enemy territory, instead of killing their enemies they were given 02 options, either to convert to Islam or pay jizyah. Zakat was imposed on All Mulsims who had certain savings. Jizyah was only imposed on “All Able bodied young non-Muslims who could go to a war” and in return, Mulsims promised gave them to freedom to practice their faiths freely and guaranteed their protection against any foreign invasion. At the time when Islam was flourishing, every young able bodied person in the islamic state was a warrior and it was compulsory for him//her to go the war but for non-Muslims with the same characteristics and who paid jizyah were allowed not join Army and fight in a war. All flourishing Nations/religions had traditions of imposing this kind of Tax against people in Minority. Jews had Jews Tax, Normans taxed Muslims in Sicily. Look up in the history, Roman conquest of England and Wales, millions of local English people were either killed, raped or taken prisoners after the victory. Normans did the same. English kings kept on slaughtering the Scottish people till late 16th century. Muslims on the other hands offered a peaceful solution instead of dragging all young non-Muslim people to the war, they were given option stay at home while Muslim rulers ensured their safety.

    2nd Qs: Why were Muslims told not to befriend Jews and Christians.

    Muslims at that time were fighting against Jews and Christians so how could they be friends and then fight each other.

    3rd Qs: Why Muslim women are not allowed to marry Christains and Jews while Muslim men can?

    Future generation is always known to carry the father’s name and not mother’s. A child’s religion is more likely to be influenced by his father’s. in the society, kids/young children aree know by the family name which comes from father’s side. I’m sure James is not your Mother’s name. So yeah, Mulsim men can marry Christian or Jews women as the child will be more likely to be a Muslim.Recommend

  • Jane James

    @Rabia Ahmed……… great article………It puts my mind and thoughts at peace with glee to know that there is a place where are unheard voices get some ears. Thank youRecommend

  • @ Zeeshan Ali

    Man you’re wrong.I’ll give you just two good references. Look up what happened to the old people and women who were hiding inside the Hagia Sophia church when the Turks came to Constaninople,in 1453.That should dispel your myths about ‘peaceful solutions’ and second ,look up the skull tower in Nis,Serbia from 1809.Recommend

  • Baig

    @ Zeeshan Ali

    Your reference to basic Islamic principles and the narration of your childhood is interesting. Im sure you’ve heard of a saying like ‘when muslims are minority,they demand secular rights and when they’re majority,they call for Shariah’ harsh as it sounds-there is an undeniable truth in it. Of course when muslims are in the west in small numbers,they are well behaved and get along with everyone;but what happens when they become a majority-they hunt down the weaker sections. This happens most commonly because of a religious sanction that refers to all non sunnis ,non muslims and other people as apostate/unbeliever/kafir/subhuman/infidel. If you read the news,you can see that 7th Sep is anti ahmadi day-people promote it saying that,there will be a day,when no apostates will be left alive-an islamic ideal.
    Muslims don’t live in peace with jews,hindus,buddhists,christians-be it in Israel,Chechnya,uighurs in China,North Africa,kashmir,Burma,Mali,Syria,Egypt wherever.This mentality should explain,why you experienced a difference in life in a muslim majority place and a christian majority/muslim minority place.Recommend

  • Noor

    @ Johnny James
    @ Zeeshan Ali

    Jews and Christians are refered to, in the Quran as ‘People of the book’…atleast all muslims know that.Recommend

  • Kiesha

    @Zeeshan Ali: 1) ” Either convert to Islam or pay Jizya”. This does not match with “there is no compulsion in religion”.

    2) So you are saying muslims can befriend jews and christians during peace time. Are you sure? Do you believe that war between Islam and idol worshippers, jews and christians is over now?
    3) Are you sure muslim man can marry non muslim woman without converting her to Islam? Recommend

  • Ali

    @Indian Catholic:

    Well to tell you the truth, the situation here in Pakistan is not that bad……Christians , hindus and Sikhs etc are getting education and serving in many organisations…..I had Christian friends in my school and university… my neighbor and many colleagues in office are hindu….no one complains…..I guess it so happens that there is a large segment of impoverished and poor families…and many Christians in Pakistan find themselves in that segment of society…the lack of education and the discrimination which they suffer is also bieng experienced by muslims living in the same impoverished segment of society……but the cause of this is poverty, not religion….as for the many incidents we keep on watching on the news, ….I would just like to say that ” a dirty fish spoils the whole pond “Recommend

  • Zeeshan Ali

    @Baig: These differences wouldn’t exist if all of us practiced real Islam instead of stupid traditions and cultural habits adopted over the centuries. These amendments/rules are made by our leaders/MNAs of whom most are incompetent. Remind me of a single leader/PM since the independence who himself/herself practiced true Islam?? No One!! so you would expect people to be subjected to these kind of rules and regulations. Islam has been diminishing from this region and from our lives over the years. Every one wants to become Doc, Engineer and if some one 1 in a 10000 wants to become a Religious Scholar, certainly he will be made fun off. We hardly know about Islam and soon that knowledge would also be gone if we didn’t gear up.Recommend

  • Ali

    For God’s sake….Try focusing on what is common between us….rather than just picking out the differences……it will be of great help to this world and to you yourself :)Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Patriot: We are leaps and bounds above everyone else in religious freedom.

    Can you give some examples of religious freedom you are talking about?
    What is the function of religious police?Recommend

  • Insaan

    @David Salmon: Indian Christians face “no discrimination whatsoever”?? Tell it to your Dalit brethren.

    India had a dalit President. Many dalits work for Indian administrative service. On an average Dalits are treated better then minorities in Pakistan. Pakistanis treat Shias and Ahmadis worse then animals.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Ali

    @Kiesha: Travel back 14 hundred years ago and put yourself in their shoes and you’ll realise that it was the need of the hour for a new flourishing region. Assad is killing his own people today, Although he’s a Muslim but I think It is the need of the hour to remove him or even kill him to rid rest of the Muslims from him.

    I’m very much positive that Christian/jew woman dont need to convert to marry a Muslim man.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @optimist: Pakistanis have no problem sharing their food etc with white collar christians.

    Christians countries give Pakistan billions of dollars every year. You guys will do anything to live in Western countries?

    Why Saudis treat Pakistanis as servant class? Arabs also don’t let Pakistanis marry their women.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Zeeshan Ali: instead of killing their enemies they were given 02 options, either to convert to Islam or pay jizyah.

    Do you know why Muslims invaded India repeatedly? Millions of Hindus were killed for refusing to convert to Islam? Muslim invaders destroyed and looted thousands of temples.

    Baber enjoyed making towers with Hindu skulls.
    Muslims killed each other for power throughout the history. Some even killed their won relatives. Builder of Tajmahal was imprisoned by his own son.
    When did Sunni Muslims start killing Shias.Recommend

  • Kiesha

    @Zeeshan Ali:
    “Muslim men can marry Christian or Jews women as the child will be more likely to be a Muslim”.
    Why you think so?. Why children will not or cannot adopt mothers religion and still carry fathers name? In case a muslim woman marries a non muslim man, the children can still follow mothers religion (if they wish to in all religions except Islam) and at the same time carry fathers name.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Noor: Jews and Christians are referred to, in the Quran as ‘People of the book’…at least all Muslims know that

    What book is that? Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Zeeshan Ali: These differences wouldn’t exist if all of us practiced real Islam instead of stupid traditions and cultural habits adopted over the centuries.

    What is “real Islam”? What Muslim country follows “real Islam”? Does Saudi Arabia follow “real Islam”? Do talibans who study Quran for years follow “real Islam”?Recommend

  • Ali


    islam… does preach tolerance…..its just the people like me who follow this religion….we don’t implement it to its real essence….we quote verses which are out of context which results in people like you developing apprehensions against the religionRecommend

  • B

    @ Insaan

    Since Judaism and christianity came before islam,the muslim scriptures consider their books (Torah,Talmud,Bible) holy and as earlier references to the Quran…( whoever has doubts in the quran ,should refer to the older books)
    But today,muslims dislike jews and christians as opposed to what the quran directs them to do.Recommend

  • Shahid Ashraf

    Besides touching the minorities rights, you’ve touched upon another very critical issue of our society, which is not usually discussed in this light i.e. population growth…. You’re right, for a poor, the children are not only guarantee for future care but also a source of additional income.

    While the government’s been working hard to create awareness about population control, it won’t be successful, if the relevant social problems (one highlighted by you) are not taken care of. Recommend

  • Zeeshan Ali

    @Insaan: lets not waste our time with who, when, whats, ifs and buts and lets just follow Quran and Sunnah!Recommend

  • Rabia

    @Shahid Ashraf: You have picked out the main point of the blog. In the short term, the poverty struck people of Pakistan cannot afford to be childless, or run the risk of being childless which they would be if their one or two children died. It is a sad fact that the incidence of infant (and maternal) mortality is very high in this country.
    I am glad this blog is engendering so much debate about Islam. It is important that we do this, although I must stress that this was not the point of this blog.However: .
    @Ali, I agree with you, and I wish we (and the comments) would focus more on what’s common between us rather than on the differences.
    @Patriot, you are right, discrimination is not due to religion. Islam, at least, does not promote the caste system, or discrimination and prejudice in any form. I agree with that. If you think otherwise, you may have misunderstood my meaning. I have said in my blog that ‘religion condemns such prejudice’.

    It is not my place to comment on jizya (the tax levied on non Muslims in an Islamic state) nor am I qualified to do so, but you will find if you study the issue that a) a pre-requisite for this tax is an Islamic state which today is nowhere to be found, and b) it is in actual fact a protection and an exemption from the duty of participating in war for non Muslims. Recommend

  • mind control

    @Zeeshan Ali:

    Assad is killing his own people today, Although he’s a Muslim but I think It is the need of the hour to remove him or even kill him to rid rest of the Muslims from him.

    The rulers of Bahrain are killing citizens too. Shall we get rid of them as well?Recommend

  • mind control

    @Zeeshan Ali:

    Muslims on the other hands offered a peaceful solution

    A. You mean the ‘solution’ offered to the ‘Banu Quraiza’ was ‘peaceful’?

    B. If all non-Muslim societies today offered to their Muslim minorities the ‘option’ of converting or going the Banu Quraiza way, you would consider that ‘peaceful’?Recommend

  • Kiesha

    “islam… does preach tolerance…..its just the people like me who follow this religion….we don’t implement it to its real essence.”

    And what exactly is stopping you to implement islam upon you to its real essence?Recommend

  • Insaan

    @@ Zeeshan Ali: second ,look up the skull tower in Nis,Serbia from 1809.

    Muslim rulers of India also enjoyed making skull towers of non-Muslim heads. Go read Baburnama, where Babur claimed he made several pyramids and towers with human skulls.
    You did not know how nice Whites were before coming to UK. You don’t know about atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on Indians. Most Indians were converted to Islam with sword.

    If you study Muslim history, you will see how many Muslim rulers killed other Muslim rulers.

    Iran and Iraq fought a war for 10 years killing more then a million people, no Muslim country tried to stop the war.Recommend

  • B

    @ Zeeshan Ali

    I generally find that after 9/11,people consider muslims as troublemakers, terrorists & part of a religion which propogates jihad.So when a small percentage even bothers to ask probing questions about Islam like ‘Insaan’ was,it’s nicer to answer them patiently & honestly..they may walk away with fewer misconceptions about Islam and terrorism.Recommend

  • Afifa

    @MYKF: its not really all around the world, but has been inherited by our elders from the hindu caste system and now implemented in the name of religion ! Recommend

  • Dr.N

    @ Zeeshan Ali

    Maybe the need of the hour isn’t just to follow religious scriptures.After the image of Islamic Jihad and killing unbelievers has come into light globally,maybe the need of the hour is to look up wether there is any work by Islamic scholars about a critical review of the founder of Islam.I ask this because the west has a long standing tradition of writing critical and scholarly reviews of the the bible and the founder of christianity and his life-I consider this the need of the hour, a time when people quote the quran to take the life of innocents and claim to be serious muslims.Is it right to blindly follow sunnah and scriptures,when people say that in some corners it advices taking lives-are one billion people without conscience to think their holy book is beyond questioning and must be obeyed blindly.
    And the explanation of jizya given by Rabia and you are pleasant in theory,but the ground reality was very different.Recommend

  • Komal S


    Blind Patriot I Guess!Recommend


    All trying to tell the writer the maybes, why don’t you accept that this is a reality…just because you have not encountered it does not mean it doesn’t happen.

    Let me tell you how it all began; during the pre-partition time, after the British entered the subcontinent followed by their Christian tableeghi jamaatain that set up all the schools and convents, all the low caste impressionable Hindus converted to Christianity and they were already in the low level jobs like cleaning and hence it carried on through generations. I was born and brought up abroad, but when I moved to Pakistan, my dadi (grandmother) used to do discrimination among Christians and called them choora. We have had a driver for over 25 years now who is a Christian and when he joined us 25 years ago, he used to use a separate glass and plate himself as probably that’s how he was brought up….but we never discriminated and even till today I eat with my Christian and Hindu colleagues even and most Muslim friends and family will frown upon that but as long as they are not eating non-halal food…the point is….it IS COMMON…and I agree with “Pappu” we cry at being discriminated in other countries but we treat our fellow non-Muslim Citizens worse!Recommend

  • gujranwala789


    A muslims telli in pakistani punjab stands just along with any other tribe native of punjab. We dont have any social ladder based on “caste” atleast in central punjab pakistan, we have more of financial class system, where people are either rich, middle class or poor irrespective of whatever qaum or tribe they belong to.Recommend

  • Nobody

    I’m no expert so don’t quote me on this but I’m going to have a go at it anyway…. when the revelations came 1,400+ years ago, it was understood that children follow their father’s religion and to keep a growing Ummah, the father could marry women of the book as long as his children were Muslim. I’ve also been told part of this was also because many widows did not have anyone to support them and it’s suggested these women could marry Muslim men for support rather than be out in the street.
    Times have changed a LOT and women no longer need men to support them financially (in most developed nations at least) and women are not silent about their child’s religion anymore either. I’ve seen many cases where a Pakistani Muslim woman has married a non Muslim man but their children are Muslim. I’ve also seen cases where a Muslim man marries a non Muslim and his children are not Muslim. And vice versa. Mothers have more of an influence in early years so I no longer think it’s applicable in modern society; however, we’re talking 1,400+ years ago. That’s my take on why Muslim women weren’t to marry non Muslims but as we can see, things have changed, culture has evolved and people have evolved (some faster than others). I’m sure you can get a far more knowledgeable answer from someone else but that’s my two cents. As a Pakistani Muslim woman, would I marry a non Muslim myself? Yes I would be open to it. But some traditional families are still not open to the idea.
    The word “equality” when it comes to men and women in Islam is thrown around a bit too lightly. 1,400+ years ago, “equality” for women was simply treating them as a human. That in itself was considered a big step which Islam did indeed, but by today’s definition no women were not equals in my opinion. Cheers. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Zeeshan Ali:
    You explanation of the third question was applicable 1,400+ years ago mate. There are plenty of mixed religion couples here in the states and more often than not the religion is more influenced by the mother in my experience. And having a Muslim last name does not mean you are a Muslim, just like having a non Muslim last name doesn’t mean you aren’t a Muslim. As a Pakistani Muslim woman if I marry a non Muslim man, it will be discussed before hand that I want my kids to be Muslim. If he respects it as many do, then we’d move forward. The role of women is quite different now than it was when the revelations came. I find it odd that people don’t realize that. Maybe that’s why Muslim majority nations are stuck in the 12th century mindset. Recommend

  • Rabia

    @Nobody: I’m really not sure how we got on to this discussion starting with what I wrote (!) but really, I totally agree with you. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @B: Since Judaism and christianity came before islam,the muslim scriptures consider their books (Torah,Talmud,Bible) holy and as earlier references to the Quran…( whoever has doubts in the quran ,should refer to the older books)

    Are you serious? According to what I have heard or read, a Christian can be arrested or killed for talking about Bible in some Muslim countries. Even Christians can’t carry a Bible when they enter Saudi arabiaRecommend

  • Insaan

    @Nobody: . 1,400+ years ago, “equality” for women was simply treating them as a human.

    Can you give me examples of how Muslims started treating women as human 1400+ years ago? Do you think Muslims still treat Muslim women as “humans”?Recommend

  • Rabia

    @gujranwala789: I think you may have missed those matrimonial ads in the papers: girl wanted for son, engineer. Wheatish complexion. Must be Rajput/Jat/whatever. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Kiesha: there is no compulsion in religion

    I would appreciate if some Muslims will explain what it really means.
    What is the function of religious police?Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Nobody: As a Pakistani Muslim woman if I marry a non Muslim man, it will be discussed before hand that I want my kids to be Muslim.

    Does Islam allow a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man? Why you want your kids to be Muslims? In what way you think Muslims are better then non-Muslims.Recommend

  • iWise

    @ Insaan

    I don’t think Islam permits muslim women to marry non muslim men..they can do it as a personal choice,that’s all.
    Muslims believe,that they alone will go to heaven-hence,a religious muslim would prefer to have their children also practice Islam.
    (Many religions,not all,believe they are the ‘true faith’-nothing wrong with that,I feel,as long as they Don’t also think that unbelievers are meant to be killed or are subhuman)Recommend

  • Ali

    well u want examples ?…lets start…before the advent of islam in the Arabian peninsula, it was common practice to bury a female newly born child alive….islam abolished this practice…..u want more examples ?Recommend

  • Kappa

    You are just talking what you heard from your mosque imam. If it was a common practice to bury a female before Islam how could every arab had multiple wives.How could Hazrat khadijah was a successful business woman before Islam.Recommend

  • gujranwala789


    In central punjab , people marry within their own tribe infact most of the marriages are within the same extended family. So what is surprising in the ads, that is how we have been living for centuries.Recommend

  • gujranwala789


    Why are you so worried about pakistanis marriage with arabian girls. No one is dying in pakistan to get married with a saudi girl, why are you bringing this point in most of your comments. Recommend

  • Ali

    Hazrat Khadijah was a member of the distinguished Quraish clan…that is why she was among the successful ones :)…and no I did not hear about this from the imam…its a historical factRecommend

  • Pakistani Christian

    I grew up in Pakistan and did not experience any discrimination. As far as I know all under previledged people are experiencing the same discrimination by the gov and common man.
    ‘Poor’ is all it takes to be treated like that. Had he bribed the the officers he would not have walked out without a license or better still if he had a reference from a big shot.
    By using the word ‘choora’ and explaining its meaning you are just giving hype to this disgusting term. Also the color of your skin has nothing to do with your religion. Dark skin does not automatically make you a Christian. Recommend

  • optimist

    @ Insaan (so called!)

    You call yourself Insaan but your comments are full of hatred for fellow human beings (i.e. Muslims). Just look at your comments and see if that matches your name?
    I have seen your comments on various blogs and all you do it pick up one line from someone’s comments and then twist words and throw insults while giving figures that sound more like a taunt than a fact!
    Patriotism shouldn’t mean being blind. Where is you Insaniat? Recommend

  • optimist

    @ Insaan,
    Read my comment again and then read your reply and you will see that your reply was not meant to answer me but just to kill the point and making noise. You will see the difference in level of reply. Recommend

  • afifa

    @Indian Catholic:

    basically its not on the basis of religion, its because of being poor they are treated this way, and its not just limited to christians even the poor muslim maids/ servants suffer the same discrimination. Its basically the complexes of being rich and wealthy that makes such kind of mentality.

    Many christian schools and colleges are here in Pakistan where muslims go and get their education, and even christians and other non-muslims are treated respectfully provided they are “NOT Poor” .

    its just the status complexes that are the main issues.Recommend

  • Kappa


    Women were respected. They used to worship many female goddesses. Recommend

  • Burjor Rustomji

    Express Tribune has to be congratulated for raising relevent social issues. Very well thought, and written. As a reader of E.T. the articles are allways very topical. It pushes one to express oneself. The way foreward is thru education, hardwork, perseverence, patience, very difficult, but that is what it takes. For many thousands if not millions the person who murdered Salman Taseer is a hero, when a nation has murderers as hero’s, and other armed bodyguards just looking on when the murder takes place, is a testament to the national thinking. Therefore what happened in Mumbai in November 2008 is not considered a serious issue here in Pakistan, after all those murdered were mainly “kafirs”. Over the past decade Pakistan has lost 40,000 to 50,000 innocent people, many more thousands have been injured, harmed, kidnapped. This is not by politics alone, it is a deep seated, deeply ingrained, deeply indoctrinated mind set. The above article on the problems facing minorities is only the tip of the iceberg. Express news has to keep up the good work. Recommend