World Shia Forum

Identity, Equality, Unity

Fragments of thoughts beyond pain – by Beena Sarwar

In January 1953, Zehra Nigah, then a high school student in Karachi, wrote the following lines in response to police firing that killed several students and passers-by, during the students’ peaceful protests for their rights

Poem in Zehra Nigah’s handwriting posted at the Dr Sarwar blog –

Aaj unn toofaN badoshoN ka kinara kaun hai
Jin ke piyare mar chukey unn ka piyara kaun hai
Jin pe raateiN chaa gaiyeeN unn ka sitara kaun hai
Jin ki dunya luT gayi unn ka sahara kaun hai
DhoonDneiN ko apni manzil iss khash-o-khashak meiN
Kitne Ghunche mil gaye haiN gulistaN ki Khak meiN

(Where lies the shore today for those storm riders/ Who will now be the love of those who lost their loved ones / Where are the stars for those on whom night has descended/ Who will support those whose world has been looted/ They left to find their goal in this chaos /How many flowers lie trampled in the garden’s dust)

Zehra Nigah’s ode to pain and the loss of life and love can be applied with even more pathos in today’s Pakistan where bullets take not random lives but are aimed to kill those who don’t conform to a particular way of thinking or belief system. How do you counter the thinking that has been propagated through the pulpit of mosques, scrawled as graffiti on walls, embedded in school textbooks and proclaimed through the mouths of ‘national heroes’ with clay feet, criminal backgrounds and twisted minds on popular television channels? We can each do what we can.

My friend Shayan was successful in changing the mind of one of her domestic helpers who had casually mentioned one day that ‘Shias are kafir’.

“In that case,” she said, “you think Farrukh Sahib (her husband) is a kafir?”

“No, bibi, how could I say that,” Sher Khan answered. “He is a good Muslim.”

“Well, he is Shia,” she replied. “And you think our daughters are kafir?”

“No, of course not! They are good, sweet girls.”

“But you just said Shias are kafir. And my husband and children are Shia,” she said gently. “So now tell me, why do you think Shias are kafir?”

“The maulvi at my masjid says so.”

“Would you leave that maulvi alone with your young daughter?” she asked. “Or son?”

The conversation continued in a non-confrontational way for a while. Gradually, Sher Khan realised that he had been misled. He even began challenging the maulvi at the masjid for making such statements, and many at the masjid supported him. This is no substitute for a sustained re-education programme at the government and media level, but it shows how one person can make a difference, how that difference touches others. Let’s all pledge never to remain silent when faced with injustice and lies. Let these voices become a flood that sweeps away the debris of hatred and bigotry. Allah is Rab-ul-alameen, for all mankind, not just Rab-ul-muslimeen, for Muslims only.

Thinking of the passengers pulled off buses and killed in Gilgit recently, words are inadequate…


Words fail
Throat chokes
Eyes burn
Tears unshed
Mind hurts
Those poor souls
Heading home for Eid
Hauled off buses
Mobs shouting
“Shia kafir”
For them
Everyone ‘else’ is kafir
Masked gunmen
Military uniforms
Identify them
Kill them
Just because
They were born
To mothers
In the ‘wrong’ faith
Beyond Absurdistan
Echoes of screams
We heard
In Kohistan
Target-killings in Balochistan
Is this Talibanistan?
Was not meant
To be like this
Eid Mubarak


About alitaj

6 comments on “Fragments of thoughts beyond pain – by Beena Sarwar

  1. Zulfiqar Ali
    August 18, 2012


  2. Geetali Tare
    August 19, 2012

    Beautifully piece, Beena. Your humanity shines through in this piece.
    If God asked me for one boon, I’d say, give our people the enlightement to rise up above hate.

  3. Hasan
    August 19, 2012

    I belong to a Sunni family, and I want to cry on the cold blooded murders of Hazaras and Ehle Tashee all over Pakistan. What a shame it brings to us. Those who say Shia Kafir/sunn kafir, are infact Biggest Kafirs of them all.

  4. Obedient
    August 19, 2012

    Yesterday I happened to found this video on youtube in which he is literally provoking others to kill Shiaz but my family told me not to even report this video, saying ke iss tarah ke maamley main aney kee koi zuroorat nahee, I assured that the report that I’ll make to youtube will be anonymous and this video is spreading violence, hatred and even terrorism but no one agreed that I should report this video using my real name and real youtube account.

  5. Hussein El-Edroos
    August 19, 2012

    My boss and I were discussing the killings of Shias at Babusar. He said that be prepared to hear that I have been bumped off (he is Shia). I said you can expect the same about me. Although I am not a Shia when they read my name on my CNIC they will read “Syed Hussein El-Edroos”. So if I happen on such a situation I wonder if I would get the benefit of the doubt

  6. Talha Rizvi
    January 14, 2014

    I understand Hussein sahib my surname is Rizvi and although I’m Sunni I face the same problems. Is there any chance You are from Hyderabad Deccan your name suggest that you may be a relative of General Edroos of Hyderabad army

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2012 by in WSF and tagged , , .
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