I am not very religious. My parents taught me namaz, though I never said them. I found every excuse in the book to not Fast. I had no inclinations for Hajj. I remember every Ramzan sitting with my mom and sisters, feeling obligated to read the Quran as I yawned through the nights.
Until, the bombings changed my life.
Earlier this year as the bombings increased, I realized that if death comes, I will have to first answer to Allah about my namaz. Before I knew it, I started saying my prayers (though still not very regularly). But Allah came and settled in my heart. I took refuge in this. It is the War on Terror, the War against Muslims, as many call it, that has made me a better Muslim. I have become more conscientious, more responsible, kinder and just, better. Now, next on my agenda is: Jihad.
Sounds funny! This Oxford educated, half-angrez, pant wearing, English speaking woman, who does not like Pakistani cuisine and until one year ago was planning to move and settle abroad, is going for Jihad. Yes, I am. And this is how.
This is my War. The dozens that die every day are my people. They die in mosques, on roads, in markets. They die on duty, in prayer or shopping. And what does this Pakistani nation do? Do we stop saying our prayers in mosques? Do we stop going to markets? Going out altogether? Do we stop sending our children to school? No! We fight back! We show resilience by refusing to live in fear, in fear of death, fear of injury, fear of yet another BREAKING NEWS on TV.
I will send my child to school no matter what. I will go to office. I will shop. I will not leave this country. I will stay here for as long as I can. I will not leave my land to them. I will not forward rumours of possible attacks to instill fear in my fellow people. I will dance, sing, go on holidays and to cinemas, watch plays, attend concerts in my country. I will support the troops and the police force. I will not sit in drawing rooms and criticize the government. I will register to vote and participate next time. I will be an agent of change, and not just a critic.
It is not easy – sending my daughter to school, sitting in an office everyday that has a credible bomb threat looming on it. Life for us Pakistanis, is not easy, which is why it is now not just mere life, but Jihad.
You can call it Jihad or you can call it being positive. Choose what fits you. If you find religion uncool, if you consider religious people ignorant, if you feel too superior or lazy to bow your head to anyone, then don’t call this Jihad… but then, don’t bow your head to fear as well. “Choose what fits you.
If you find religion uncool, if you consider religious people ignorant, if you feel too superior or lazy to bow your head to anyone, than don’t call this Jihad… but then, don’t bow your head in fear as well.” Why should we anyway? This is our country. They can not make us afraid. Afraid in our own home. They can try and damage us, and yes, it aches every time to hear of all those we have lost and continue to lose. But I envy the martyrs who are in a happier place today. I notice how every death motivates this country towards solidarity, keeps us united, together, makes us even more resilient than before.
This is my war. Every day I shall fight back by living. I will embrace life and deny fear. I shall laugh, sing and dance….. I shall live. I will not let them kill us while we are still alive. In our car, we put on patriotic songs only. My two year old loves and sings, Jeevay jeevay Pakistan. We salute the policeman, who salute us back. We stand united, we fight, we live. In honour of those who have died, I shall live. In honour of those who fight, I join them. This is my War. This is my Jihad. I have my Allah with me. I am not afraid.