Mufti Usman Yar Khan’s funeral, broke my heart but changed my life

Published: January 26, 2014
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A large number of people turned out for the funeral of Mufti Muhammad Usman Yar Khan in Karachi on Saturday. PHOTO: FILE

I have never supported any political or religious party in my life. In fact, I am one of those people who tend to make a complete fool out of themselves when trying to indulge in a heated political or religious debate. But what I have known all my life is that anyone dying a death that was planned by another human being is simply wrong.

Unfortunately, being a citizen of Karachi I see it happening daily. As the death toll continues to increase every day, our collective indifference also seems to grow. Every time we see the news, we quietly thank God that it was not someone we knew or care about, but that is the end of it.

Just last week, I witnessed something that broke my heart.

On Friday, January 17, 2013, Mufti Usman Yar Khan, the General Secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Samiul Haq (JUI-S) was shot dead. It was right after his death that I found out that he was the mufti (head) of the mosque right next to my apartments. His funeral prayers were offered the next day on an empty playground which is visible from my room’s window, and I could hear and see everything that was happening there.

I did not know him, I have minimal knowledge of what his party does or supports and I do not know why he was killed.

Before his body was brought for the prayers, a man, whom I did not know, beautifully addressed a few issues that we face in the country every time a known public figure – particularly a political or religious one – passes away.

He said,

“Despite the fact that one of the biggest ulema in the city and country was shot dead, there was minimal protest. No one set any car on fire, no one went out on the road screaming for justice or closing down the city. No activities were undertaken to stop day-to-day business and no stones were hurled at passers-by. None of these things happened, not because we were afraid of what the police or rangers might do but because we are Muslims.

On the day of judgement when God asks us why we threw stones at someone’s car when they did not do us any harm, what will our answer be?”

However, I recalled that on the night of his passing, some miscreants had blocked the road opposite the mosque for a few hours and some tree branches were broken and set ablaze to stop the flow of traffic.

He continued saying,

“Since there was no protest, there was no media coverage either. There was a mere strip going across some news channels that a religious figure had been shot dead. Had we protested, it would have been all over the news. But we do not want to make fun of our leader’s death and we also do not want be filled with shame when we stand in front of God and he questions us on haqooq-ul-ibad (rights of fellow human beings).

Every other day some political or religious figure is either shot dead or killed in a bomb blast. The most that our government does is pass the usual statement ‘strongly condemning the act’ and expressing their ‘hope that the killers will be arrested soon’.

However, time and again, this does not happen.

People take matters into their own hands when they feel that there is no one to turn to. When those who are responsive for providing justice fail to do so, people find their own way of doing justice.

We are all Muslims – good Muslims. We will not disturb another’s peace because of our loss. We know the condition of our grieving hearts but we will not take it out on others. The day we all start actually practicing what our religion teaches will be the day that peace is restored in the country.”

I personally think that he spoke brilliantly and that everything he said made sense.

Instead of praying for the departed soul, why do we need to get out on the roads, kill more people and destroy more families?

Why is the government not doing anything about these killings?

The most heart-wrenching part about this funeral was when the body was placed in front of the crowd and the father of the deceased stepped up to offer a prayer. His voice broke and I could feel his pain as he tried to speak. I do not think any parent deserves to go through something like this – no matter who they are, whether they are rich or poor, right or wrong, famous or unknown.

Standing at my window, I could see the charpai (bedstead) in a corner stained with blood. Imagine how a parent would feel, knowing that this was the blood of their child – the child whom they will never see again.

Although many funerals take place across this city and country every single day, this one left me shaken.

These killings needs to be stopped. Something has to be done.

May God protect us all and I hope that no more parents are left crying over the untimely death of their child.

Fauzia Zafar

Fauzia Zafar

Currently working as Regional Brand Manager at Blue Rain Dialogues. Loves to travel and eat all sorts of bread while at it. She tweets as @FauZafar (twitter.com/FauZafar)

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